GENEVA: A Qatari candidate for election to FIFA’s ruling council faces being banned from soccer for not telling the truth in an ethics investigation. FIFA prosecutors have asked ethics judges in a final report that Saoud Al-Mohannadi be banned for “no less than two years and six months,” the ethics committee investigation chamber said on Friday in a statement. A 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,600) fine was also requested.
The case does not involve Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid which was also investigated, the statement said. “The investigation against Mr Al-Mohannadi concerned his failure to properly cooperate and provide truthful information to the investigatory chamber,” ethics prosecutors said. Al-Mohannadi, a Qatar Football Association vice president and former general secretary, faces charges related to “duty of disclosure” and “general obligation to collaborate.” He previously passed an integrity check by FIFA to be a candidate for the ruling council chaired by President Gianni Infantino. Al-Mohannadi was announced on Aug. 12 by the Asian Football Confederation among four men competing for two vacant FIFA seats.
The vote by AFC member federations is on Sept. 27 in Goa, India. The Qatari official was making his second attempt to join FIFA’s ruling panel after failing to win election in April 2015. Qatar has been without a delegate on FIFA’s executive committee or council since former AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam was suspended by the ethics committee in 2011 and banned for life a year later.
Bin Hammam was first investigated for allegedly bribing Caribbean voters in his 2011 bid to become FIFA president. Though he won his appeal against a life ban in that case, FIFA and the AFC followed up with a separate case relating to his financial management of the Asian governing body. Bin Hammam resigned his soccer positions in December 2012, and was subsequently expelled again by the FIFA ethics committee. It was unclear yesterday if Al-Mohannadi was an uncooperative witness in either of those ethics investigations against Bin Hammam.
In most cases, FIFA’s ethics committee observes confidentiality rules to not reveal details of an investigation. “Until a formal decision is taken by the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee, the accused party is presumed innocent,” ethics prosecutors said yesterday. In 2014, the ethics committee decided that Qatar’s successful World Cup bid – and rival bidders, including 2018 host Russia – broke rules but that the result was not compromised. —AP