Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The adjudicatory chamber of the independent FIFA Ethics Committee has banned former CONCACAF General Secretary and FIFA Executive Committee member, Chuck Blazer, from football for life. This follows a seven-year ban issued earlier this week to Harold Mayne-Nicholls, former Chairman of the Bid Evaluation Group for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA Would Cups, and a former Chilean football association President.
Blazer was guilty of ‘many and various acts of misconduct continuously and repeatedly during his time as an official’, read a FIFA statement issued today. ‘He was a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, payment and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes and kickbacks as well as other money-making schemes. He was found guilty of violations of Art. 13 (General rules of conduct), Art. 15 (Loyalty), Art. 16 (Confidentiality), Art. 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting), Art. 19 (Conflicts of interest), Art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) and Art. 21 (Bribery and corruption) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.’
The ban is effective from today. FIFA said it was ‘based on investigations carried out by the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee in response to the final report of the CONCACAF Integrity Committee and the latest facts presented by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York’. The report of the CONCACAF Integrity Committee was produced in April 2013. FIFA explained the delay in sanctioning Blazer as follows:
‘In May 2013, the Ethics Committee had decided to provisionally suspend the investigation proceedings in relation to former FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer until the end of 2013 at the earliest. The body had taken the decision after receiving written confirmation that Blazer would not be engaging in any football-related activities until at least 31 December 2013, and after taking into consideration circumstances which made it advisable to provisionally suspend the investigations, especially for reasons of Blazer’s ill health. When Dr Cornel Borbély took over the role of independent chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee in December 2014, he lifted this suspension and started new proceedings against Chuck Blazer, which have led to today’s announcement of the lifelong ban.’
Earlier this week, the adjudicatory chamber banned Mayne-Nicholls (pictured) for seven years. ‘In accordance with article 36 of the FIFA Code of Ethics more detailed information will be given after this final decision becomes effective’, read FIFA’s 6 July statement. Article 36 relates to the confidentiality of Ethics Committee proceedings.
FIFA confirmed that due to Article 36, it could not reveal the reasons for the ban. ‘The plain information that a convicted person has been banned can be made public without breaching Article 36, as it is in the general interest of the public”, a FIFA spokesperson told the Sports Integrity Initiative. ‘Hence, what we are talking about is weighing up the respective interests of the public against the parties concerned’.
This weighing up of the public’s interest in knowing that an individual has been banned, and whether the public has an interest in knowing the reasons for the ban explains why more has not been announced. FIFA also might not want to reveal details at this stage, as Mayne-Nicholls confirmed that he would appeal against the sanction and questioned why FIFA had published it before it has gone through the appeals process. Article 36 did not prevent FIFA from publishing the reasons when it chose to ban Alberto Colaco, former General Secretary of the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) in November last year; or when it chose to ban Reynald Temarii, General Director of the Tahiti football association for eight years in May this year.
Citing ‘leaked emails’, the BBC reported that Mayne-Nicholls admitted speaking to officials from Qatar’s bid about work placements for relatives at Qatar’s Aspire youth academy, which led the Ethics Committee to call into question the integrity of his role as Chairman of the Bid Evaluation Group for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA Would Cups. The FIFA spokesperson reiterated that the reasons for the ban would be announced in due course.
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