Fernando plans legal action against FIFA ban

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP)

Former FIFA executive committee member Vernon Manilal Fernando plans to appeal his eight-year ban from football.

In a statement issued by his lawyers on Wednesday, Fernando said he was ''naturally disappointed'' with the suspension announced by FIFA on Tuesday and still hadn't been told what provisions of the ethics code he'd breached.

''Mr. Fernando ... is confident that he will clear his name. He is prepared to take this matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport,'' Nithi Murugesu and Associates said in a statement.

Harsha Abeykoon, a spokesman for Sri Lanka's sports ministry, said two committees had already been set up to investigate alleged financial and administrative irregularities in the Sri Lanka Football Federation.

Reports in Sri Lanka have alleged misspending of football development and disaster relief funds following the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Last month, Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage disbanded a management committee chaired by Fernando at the federation, saying it had ''ruined the whole sport.''

Sri Lanka Football Federation president Ranjith Rodrigo declined to comment on the FIFA ban, saying he has not received any details and reasons for the action against Fernando.

FIFA announced the suspension against Fernando after a two-day hearing, saying he ''was found guilty of several breaches of the FIFA code of ethics'' without elaborating.

The announcement came in the same week before the Asian Football Confederation holds its congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where it can discuss replacing him.

Fernando also had been a close associate of former AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam, who was expelled by FIFA for a second time last December.

Fernando was a FIFA employee when he was elected by AFC member countries in 2011 to join the executive committee of the sport's world governing body. At the time, Bin Hammam was AFC president.

Fernando served as FIFA's regional development officer in South Asia at a time when development funds were directed by a bin Hammam-chaired committee.

Fernando's ban was backdated to March 11, when he was suspended to prevent him from interfering with FIFA's investigation.

Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA for ''conflicts of interest'' relating to his management of AFC contracts and bank accounts. That came after a bribery scandal during his bid to oust Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.

Fernando is the latest FIFA board member to leave the committee this year.

U.S. delegate Chuck Blazer did not seek re-election after 16 years, and faces an ethics probe of his time running CONCACAF.

South American president Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay resigned last week, citing health reasons, before he was publicly revealed guilty on Tuesday of taking kickbacks from FIFA's former marketing agency, ISL, in the 1990s.

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