Disgraced ex-FIFA official loses appeal

Former FIFA official Amos Adamu lost his appeal on Friday against a three-year ban from football for seeking bribes during bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a judgment by FIFA’s ethics committee to expel Adamu from football until October 2013.

A panel of three arbitrators said the ban ”was even relatively mild given the seriousness of the offense.”

”The CAS Panel stressed that it was of crucial importance that top football officials should not only be honest but should evidently and undoubtedly be seen to be honest,” the court said.

Adamu was secretly filmed by British undercover reporters from The Sunday Times newspaper asking for $800,000 (?600,000) to influence his World Cup vote. He said the money would pay for artificial fields in his native Nigeria.

Adamu told The Associated Press by telephone that he ”had not heard” the verdict and declined to comment.

FIFA said it was ”satisfied” by the court’s verdict.

”This CAS decision further underlines FIFA’s zero tolerance and clear stance against any breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics,” world football’s governing body said in a statement.

CAS said it rejected Adamu’s argument that the evidence was inadmissible because it might have been illegally obtained.

The panel ”was even not sure that the Sunday Times journalists acted illegally,” the court said.

”(Adamu) has also claimed a violation of his personality rights,” CAS said. ”With respect to the behavior of Dr. Adamu, the CAS panel was comfortably satisfied that he was far from actively and unambiguously refusing the improper offer set forth by the alleged lobbyists.”

The scandal implicated Adamu and five other senior officials, and plunged FIFA into turmoil weeks before the December 2010 votes.

Adamu was stripped of his votes and lost his seat representing Africa on the FIFA executive committee.

Until the bribery scandal, the former Nigerian government adviser was expected to be a strong candidate to succeed Issa Hayatou as president of the 54-nation Confederation of African Football.

Adamu was also ordered to pay FIFA a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs ($11,100; ?8,300).

Adamu’s case was the first time a CAS panel has scrutinized FIFA’s code of ethics.

The code was used by FIFA to ban Mohamed bin Hammam from football for life last year, after the former presidential candidate was judged to have arranged bribes for voters in the Caribbean.

Bin Hammam will challenge FIFA at CAS on April 18-19 to try to overturn his expulsion.

CAS is preparing verdicts in two more cases of alleged FIFA corruption by former executive committee members.

Amadou Diakite of Mali and Ahongalu Fusimalohi of Tonga both appealed their two-year sanctions based on Sunday Times evidence. They allegedly advised reporters posing as lobbyists how to bribe FIFA officials and to pay $1 million ($750,000).

Diakite was removed from FIFA’s referees committee and Fusimalohi lost his job as chief executive of Tonga’s football association. Two more former FIFA executive committee members accepted their bans for giving bribes advice and did not appeal to CAS.

Tunisian lawyer Slim Aloulou served a one-year ban and lost his position chairing FIFA’s disputes resolution panel. Ismail Bhamjee of Botswana got a four-year ban, four years after he was removed from the executive committee for scalping tickets at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He was replaced by Adamu as one of Africa’s four delegates in FIFA’s high command.

The Sunday Times probe also resulted in then-FIFA vice president Reynald Temarii of Tahiti serving a one-year ban for breaking confidentiality rules.