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FIFA bans Afghan official in fallout of sexual abuse scandal

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ZURICH (AP) — In further fallout from a sexual abuse scandal, Afghanistan’s top soccer official was banned for five years Friday after failing to act on allegations made by women’s national team players.

FIFA said Sayed Aghazada will be removed from the Asian Football Confederation’s executive committee just months after he was elected. He was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000).

“(Aghazada) was aware of this abuse and had the duty to report and prevent it,” FIFA said, adding that other soccer officials are still being investigated in the case.

As general secretary of the Afghanistan soccer federation, Aghazada worked with its now-disgraced president Keramuudin Karim.

Afghanistan women’s national team players had accused federation officials of sexual abuse and cover-ups for several years. FIFA banned Karim for life in June after he was accused by several players of “repeated sexual abuse.” He was also fined 1 million Swiss francs ($1 million).

Afghan judicial authorities and FIFA announced investigations last year when players went public with allegations, seeming frustrated with the pace of previously confidential inquiries.

Aghazada was elected in April to a four-year term on the Asian soccer confederation’s ruling committee despite the Afghan soccer body being subject to ongoing investigations. Before the elections, former FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan had called on Afghan candidates to be barred while implicated.

Platini plans comeback, legal fight after 4-year FIFA ban

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NYON, Switzerland — Michel Platini is free to work in soccer again on Tuesday morning after his four-year ban by FIFA expires overnight.

The former UEFA president said Monday he is still unsure where and when he will return, and a comeback will likely force him to first pay FIFA a fine of 60,000 Swiss francs ($60,300) that is three years overdue.

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Platini told The Associated Press in an interview about his future plans: “I have some idea but it’s difficult to speak today.”

The 64-year-old Platini says he can “come back everywhere” but pointed out that the next elections for top roles at FIFA, UEFA and the French football association are “some years ahead.”

“I have time, if I come back to this” world, where he was once seen as the heir apparent to former FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

His current fight is still against the case of financial wrongdoing – and allegations linked to backdated FIFA salary and pension entitlement – that ended his bid to succeed Blatter. The charges were upheld so far by two FIFA judicial bodies, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Switzerland’s supreme court.

Platini has challenged the Swiss federal ruling at the the European Court of Human Rights.

He says “that means I don’t pay this fine” while contesting the human rights case in Strasbourg in his native France.

That ongoing sense of injustice, and unpaid debt, could cause FIFA’s ethics committee to impede his return.

Platini suggests: “They will try to use what they want so that I don’t come back, I am sure.”

Soccer’s world body declined to comment Monday on its rules enforcing payment of fines.

FIFA did confirm that Blatter paid his fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,250) first imposed in 2015.

Blatter is serving a six-year FIFA ban, upheld by CAS, for authorizing an uncontracted $2-million payment to Platini in 2011. Blatter also extended his former protege’s FIFA pension plan to add more than $1 million by 2015.

FIFA bans official for cash conflicts at youth World Cup

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ZURICH — FIFA banned an ally of disgraced former vice president David Chung for financial wrongdoing linked to Papua New Guinea hosting the Under-20 Women’s World Cup in 2016.

John Wesley Gonjuan was banned for two years, eight months on Friday and fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,250).

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Gonjuan was investigated after an audit revealed a conflict of interest with a company owned by Mr. Gonjuan and the receipt of an unjustified amount linked to the 2016 FIFA tournament. The amount of money was not specified.

The FIFA executive committee, including Chung and chaired by Sepp Blatter, awarded the women’s tournament to Papua New Guinea in March 2015.

FIFA said Gonjuan was charged with conflict of interest and accepting gifts – the same charges which last year removed Chung from his FIFA role and as Oceania Football Confederation president.

Chung, who lead Oceania from 2010-18, was banned by FIFA for 6½ years for financial wrongdoing linked to a $20 million project to build its new headquarters in New Zealand.

After Chung left his soccer positions in 2018, Gonjuan stepped up as interim president of Papua New Guineaï’s soccer federation.

FIFA imposes life ban on former CONCACAF official Sanz

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has imposed a life ban for bribery on Enrique Sanz, the former general secretary of North American soccer body CONCACAF.

Sanz was easily identified as an unnamed co-conspirator in U.S. Department of Justice documents in 2015 – No. 4 in the original indictment in May that year, and No. 3 in a superseding indictment unsealed that December.

American federal prosecutors alleged that he arranged and took bribes linked to commercial deals for international soccer competitions with other officials linked to FIFA. They included World Cup qualifying games and the 2016 Copa American centenary tournament.

Though Sanz was not publicly charged or sentenced, prosecutors alleged he also took part in bribery schemes working for sports agency Traffic USA before joining CONCACAF in 2012.

The indictment said he obtained an “expensive painting from an art gallery in New York” as a bribe while working for Jeffrey Webb, then CONCACFA’s leader and a FIFA vice president. Webb, a banker from the Cayman Islands, pleaded guilty to various financial crimes and is awaiting sentence.

FIFA said its ethics judges charged Sanz with bribery only during his 2012-15 work with CONCACAF. He was found guilty and fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($100,000).

In 2014, the Colombia-born official took a leave of absence from CONCACAF, which also covers Central America and the Caribbean, while being treated for leukemia.

Sanz was suspended by FIFA’s ethics committee when the sprawling American investigation was unsealed in May 2015, and he was fired by CONCACAF weeks later.

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FIFA orders Cardiff to pay Nantes initial fee for Emiliano Sala

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FIFA has ruled that Cardiff City must pay FC Nantes the initial $6.5 million for the transfer of the late Emiliano Sala, and reportedly will be required to transact the entire $18 million fee once it comes due according to the negotiated deal in January.

The Argentine striker died in a plane crash on the way to his new club, along with the pilot David Ibbotson.

Initially, it seemed by the FIFA announcement that a middle ground had been reached, with FIFA requiring just the $6.5 million to be paid as a way of placating the two sides in an emotionally charged dispute. However, it is now being reported that the payment amount is for the initial fee owed by Cardiff City at the time of the transfer, and that FIFA has ruled that the Welsh club will indeed be on the hook for the entire fee once it comes due. The confusion stems from Nantes only officially appealing to FIFA for the initial payment due in January, but that the precedent has now been set for future installments as well.

Cardiff City has 10 days to accept the decision or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and reports state they will indeed do so. They have argued that because paperwork had not been completed and Sala had not been registered to the club at his time of death, they were not on the hook for his club-record fee, while Nantes countered that the two parties had agreed to the transfer and because of Sala’s departure from their grounds to make his way to Cardiff City, they should be compensated for his services.

An autopsy in August determined that Sala was exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide prior to his death, with investigators surmising that the exposure likely contributed to the crash. With the body of pilot David Ibbotson still missing, it’s assumed that he was also exposed to the fumes, which could have rendered the duo unconscious, leading to the crash.