Fifa World Cup: Key official banned for seven years

Harold Mayne-Nicholls
Football's world governing body said Harold Mayne-Nicholls, 54, had been suspended by its ethics committee

A Fifa official who assessed the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has been banned from all football-related activity for seven years.

Football's world governing body said Harold Mayne-Nicholls, 54, has been suspended by its ethics committee.

It said more information would be given when the "decision becomes effective".

Mayne-Nicholls plans to appeal against the sanction - and has questioned why it was announced before he had been through the appeals process.

Former Chilean Football Association president Mayne-Nicholls was one of five senior officials Fifa said last year were being investigated.

He had admitted speaking to officials from Qatar's bid about possible work placements for three relatives at the country's Aspire youth academy.

The ethics committee felt those conversations provided "cause enough to doubt the integrity of the inspection process and your evaluations", according to leaked emails between a committee member and Mayne-Nicholls.

Analysis - Richard Conway, BBC Radio 5 live
"Fifa says it will confirm their reasons for handing down the seven-year ban in due course - we don't yet know what articles of the code of ethics were breached but presumably they will centre around an alleged conflict of interest.
"Meanwhile the news is likely to be heralded by Fifa president Sepp Blatter as further evidence the beleaguered organisation he continues to lead can tackle corruption as he continues to plan a reform agenda."

Mayne-Nicholls chaired Fifa's bid evaluation group for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

In his 2010 report to Fifa, Mayne-Nicholls - who had been considering standing in this year's Fifa presidential election - expressed serious concerns about conditions in Qatar, where summer temperatures can reach 50C.

Mayne-Nicholls was one of several senior Fifa officials to call for an independent report into the award process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to be published in full.

In December, Fifa decided to publish a "legally appropriate" version of the report, written by American lawyer Michael Garcia, who later resigned, citing a lack of leadership.

Swiss authorities have already begun a criminal investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated.

Meanwhile, nine senior Fifa officials are facing separate investigations of corruption, with US prosecutors alleging they accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than $150m (£100m) over a 24-year period.

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