Soccer

Ban ends for disgraced former FIFA executive Adamu

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Former FIFA executive committee member Amos Adamu's three-year ban for seeking bribes to influence his World Cup vote has expired and he is free to work in soccer again.

Adamu was one of a number of high-level FIFA officials implicated in corruption allegations concerning the fiercely criticized votes selecting Russia and Qatar as hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The Nigerian, whose ban ended Sunday, told The Associated Press phone Monday that he can ''only thank God it is over.'' He says he holds ''no grudge against anyone'' and wouldn't comment on a possible return to soccer.

Adamu was filmed in a British newspaper sting three years ago asking undercover reporters posing as bidders for $800,000 to influence his World Cup hosting vote, saying he wanted the money paid to him personally so he could finance soccer fields in Nigeria. He was suspended and not allowed to take part in the December 2010 votes, was ultimately banned for three years by FIFA and failed in two appeals against his sanction.

When the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his second appeal and upheld his ban in 2012, a three-member panel at sport's highest legal authority said his punishment was ''even relatively mild given the seriousness of the offense.''

Adamu was once considered a leading candidate to succeed long-serving Issa Hayatou as president of the Confederation of African Football. Hayatou, from Cameroon, won what he said would be a final term in charge of African soccer this year.

The Sunday Times bribery scandal three years ago implicated Adamu and five other officials in corrupt behavior and plunged FIFA into turmoil weeks before the votes to choose the countries to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. FIFA has since conceded that holding the two votes at the same time was a mistake, and also has changed its rules and taken the vote to decide who should win the right to host the tournament out of the hands of the exclusive executive committee.

FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia is looking into further allegations in a report by The Sunday Times that Adamu's son, Samson, was paid $1 million by Qatar's World Cup bid team to host a lavish dinner in South Africa before the 2010 World Cup.

The Qatar 2022 bid committee said it did not pursue involvement in the dinner and no agreement was signed and no payments were made.

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Follow Gerald Imray at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP

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