Monday October 18, 2021

Oceania football bans official for corruption

AFP
August 24, 2021

WELLINGTON: Football’s scandal-plagued Oceania confederation Monday banned a former top official for six years after finding him guilty of bribery and corruption.

The Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) said Lee Harmon of the Cook Islands — a one-time member of the influential FIFA Council — would also face hefty fines over his conduct. “The ethics proceedings are part of an extensive investigation,” the confederation said in a statement.

The governing body did not outline the ethics violations, saying only that they occurred before 2019 and included conflicts of interest, offering and receiving gifts, as well as bribery and corruption.

It said he would be banned for six years and must pay US$75,000 in fines and US$28,000 in costs. Harmon — a former OFC vice-president and president of the Cook Islands FA — had previously been suspended by FIFA for three months for reselling tickets to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The 11-nation OFC is the poorest and weakest of FIFA’s six continental confederations, consisting mainly of small island states. Former OFC general secretary Tai Nicholas was banned for eight years in 2019 for misappropriating FIFA funds and bribery.

Two ex-OFC presidents, David Chung and Reynald Temarii, also left the game under a cloud after receiving lengthy bans for corruption. FIFA president Gianni Infantino warned during a visit to Auckland in 2018 that the world body had seen enough corruption in the OFC and it was on a “last opportunity” to clean up its act.