ZURICH: FIFA ethics prosecutors have asked for a life ban for a former aide to Mohamed bin Hammam in a bribery investigation. The FIFA ethics committee said yesterday its investigation into Najeeb Chirakal “focused mainly on his involvement in payments to several football officials.” It recommended that FIFA ethics judges impose the life ban for charges including bribery and corruption, offering gifts, conflicts of interest and failing to cooperate with investigators.
Chirakal was based in Qatar and worked for Bin Hammam, a one-time FIFA powerbroker and Asian Football Confederation president who was banned for life by FIFA in 2012. It is unclear when FIFA ethics judges will rule on the case. Verdicts typically take at least several weeks. Chirakal was previously identified – in emails published by British newspaper The Sunday Times and a report by Pricewaterhouse Coopers into AFC finances – as a key link for African and Asian officials seeking cash payments from Bin Hammam.
In October 2012, Chirakal was provisionally suspended by the FIFA ethics court for failing to cooperate with its investigation into Bin Hammam.
Then, the aide had been asked “to provide information and documents, and failed to respond.” The FIFA ethics committee expelled Bin Hammam for a second time in December 2012 over financial mismanagement of the AFC, which was detailed in a leaked forensic audit by accountancy firm PwC. That report linked Chirakal and other presidential staffers to correspondence with an African official, Amadou Diallo, seeking money from Bin Hammam, who was independently wealthy in the construction trade.
Diallo was linked in 2011 to unproven claims over alleged payments tied to Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Bin Hammam was first banned by FIFA in 2011 over cash payments to Caribbean voters when he was a FIFA presidential candidate against Sepp Blatter. That life ban was overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the Qatari official was blocked from returning to duty by the second ethics case. — AP