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Apr 30, 2013

FIFA exec dealt 8-year ban

He ruled FIFA for more than two decades but Joao Havelange's era at football's governing body has ended in controversy.

FIFA executive commitee member Vernon Manilal Fernando was banned from football for eight years Tuesday, though the governing body did not specify which ethics rules he broke.

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

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

"(Fernando) was found guilty of several breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics," FIFA said after a two-day hearing by its ethics court, but did not give any further details on the violations.

The Sri Lankan official's ban was imposed three days before the Asian Football Confederation holds its congress in Kuala Lumpur, where it can discuss replacing him.

Fernando's expulsion could open the prospect for the newly elected AFC president on Thursday to claim a seat on the 25-member FIFA board.

FIFA said Fernando is prevented "from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level."

Fernando was a FIFA employee when he was elected by AFC member countries in 2011 to join its executive committee. At the time, Bin Hammam was AFC president.

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

The ban is effective retroactively from March 11 this year, 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 presidential bid to oust Sepp Blatter, who was re-elected.

Fernando is the latest FIFA board member to leave the committee this year, though is by far the least influential. United States delegate Chuck Blazer did not seek re-election after 16 years, and faces an ethics probe of his time running the CONCACAF confederation.

South American confederation president Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay resigned last week, citing health reasons. He was also under investigation for taking kickbacks from FIFA's former marketing agency, ISL, in the 1990s.

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