Disgraced Oceania official to appeal ‘harsh’ ban

A senior Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) official suspended over allegations of World Cup vote-selling on Friday said he was innocent and vowed to appeal against the “harsh” ban.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 19 Nov 2010, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:33 AM

Football’s governing body FIFA suspended OFC executive committee member Ahongalu Fusimalohi from football for three years and fined him 10,000 Swiss francs (10,040 US dollars) following an investigation into the claims.

The OFC’s president Reynald Temarii was also banned for a year and told AFP after hearing the FIFA inquiry’s findings — handed down in Zurich on Thursday — that he also planned an appeal.

Fusimalohi, the Tonga Football Association general secretary, said he heard about the FIFA decision in the early hours of Friday morning.

“I was really surprised, I didn’t expect a decision of that nature,” he told Radio NZ.

“It’s a decision that I think far outweighs the allegations that were levelled at me... I’m at a loss, I intend to file for an appeal.”

British newspaper The Sunday Times alleged Fusimalohi sought 100,000 US dollars from undercover journalists to support one of the bidders for the 2018 World Cup.

The Tongan official said comments he made to the journalists were taken out of context and the allegations were false.

“I don’t understand how the decision came back that serious and harsh,” he said.

Fusimalohi’s punishment was one of the heaviest imposed by FIFA’s ethics committee on the six officials implicated in the newspaper sting that prompted the inquiry.

The committee has not provided details of its findings against Fusimalohi, who last month said he knew the undercover reporters were not who they said they were and played along to try to find out what they were up to.

The OFC said FIFA had cleared Temarii of corruption and found him guilty of minor infringements, including breaching confidentiality.

“We will respect any decision Mr. Temarii takes to pursue the appeal process that is open to him,” the OFC’s acting president David Chung said in a statement.

Temarii had been accused of demanding three million New Zealand dollars (2.3 million US) to set up a sports academy in Auckland in return for his support.

The OFC was unable to say whether or not Fusimalohi had also been cleared of corruption.

It said the organisation’s executive committee would meet on November 27 to discuss the FIFA findings.

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