FIFA suspends executive during ethics probe
The fallout from the Mohamed bin Hammam corruption scandal in
world football led to FIFA suspending another leading Asian member
of its executive committee on Monday.
Vernon Manilal Fernando of Sri Lanka, a close ally of the
disgraced former FIFA presidential candidate, has been banned from
taking part in any football activities for up to 90 days.
FIFA said this was ”to prevent interference with the
establishment of the truth” during an ethics investigation.
The suspension relates to the investigation by FIFA prosecutor
Michael J. Garcia into the alleged misuse of Asian Football
Confederation accounts and conflicts of interest in commercial
contracts while bin Hammam was president.
Fernando’s case has been sent to the adjudicatory chamber of
FIFA’s ethics committee for a decision.
Calls to his mobile telephone were not returned Monday.
FIFA has not said if there are any specific allegations against
Fernando, who joined the governing body’s inner circle under bin
The 63-year-old Fernando is now barred from involvement in the
March 20-21 FIFA board meeting in Zurich, which will recommend
ongoing anti-corruption reforms. They were sparked by the bin
Hammam scandal and bribery allegations surrounding the 2018 and
2022 World Cup bidding contest.
Bin Hammam resigned from all football-related positions in
December and was banned for life by FIFA after its ethics committee
charged him with repeated violations while leading the AFC.
It was the Qatari official’s second life ban since he challenged
Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency in 2011.
Bin Hammam won a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruling last year
to overturn the first ban. The court said FIFA hadn’t proven bin
Hammam paid $40,000 bribes in cash to Caribbean officials despite
presenting whistleblower evidence.
Fernando, who is a lawyer, was among a group of senior football
officials who accompanied bin Hammam on that May 2011 trip to
Trinidad to woo voters three weeks ahead of the FIFA election. Bin
Hammam, who claims Blatter helped orchestrate the scandal, withdrew
his candidacy as FIFA prepared to suspend him days before
During the probe into one of most far-reaching scandals to hit
world football’s governing body, Fernando was questioned by
investigators from former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s agency about
Garcia launched a second probe of bin Hammam in one of his first
cases since being appointed FIFA’s lead prosecutor last July.
A yearlong audit by the Malaysia-based Asian confederation
revealed ”infringements” regarding the ”execution of certain
contracts” and tampering with the organization’s bank accounts by
bin Hammam while he was president since 2002.
Bin Hammam was a former ally of Blatter and had been appointed
to chair its Goal Bureau distributing millions of dollars of
development funding each year.
Fernando was effectively bin Hammam’s point man in south Asia as
FIFA’s development officer based in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In January 2011, Fernando was elected by Asian football nations
as one of their four delegates on FIFA’s ruling executive
committee. On the same day in Doha, bin Hammam was re-elected
unopposed as AFC president and prepared to take on Blatter.
With a scheduled May 2 election to choose a new AFC president,
Fernando is now barred from campaigning for one of the four
candidates. Three are former allies of bin Hammam, whose legacy is
still being purged from world football.
AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this