CAS overturns Fifa ban on former ExCo member

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has overturned a ban imposed by world football’s governing body Fifa on former Executive Committee member Worawi Makudi after the Thai official presented new evidence connected to his case.

In October 2016, the adjudicatory chamber of Fifa’s Ethics Committee issued a five-year ban to the 67-year-old on charges of forgery and falsification. Worawi, formerly president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), saw investigations opened against him in July 2015 after being convicted of forgery by the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court in relation to his 2013 re-election for the presidency of the FAT.

The investigation against Worawi concerned alterations of the FAT Statutes which were not approved by the FAT Congress. Makudi was allegedly responsible for the alterations and did not inform the members of the FAT Congress about them.

In the ruling handed down by the adjudicatory chamber in 2016, world football’s governing body said Worawi had been issued with a five-year ban for altering the FAT’s Statutes. The adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee found Worawi guilty of forgery and falsification under Article 17 of the Fifa Code of Ethics. In addition, Worawi was found guilty of violating Article 41 relating to obligation of parties to collaborate.

Worawi served as a member of the Fifa ExCo from 1997 to 2015, before being voted off by Asian member federations. He later appealed Fifa’s initial ruling to its Appeal Committee, which reduced the ban to three years and six months. However, not satisfied with this decision, he took the case to CAS.

In its decision, the CAS Panel considered that, on the basis of the evidence available before it, Worawi did not breach Article 17 of the Fifa Code of Ethics. The breach of Article 41 was confirmed, but to a lesser degree than found by the Fifa instances. Accordingly, the CAS Panel found the appropriate sanctions to be a reprimand and a fine of CHF 5,000 (€4,396/$4,957), half the original amount, and cancelled the ban from taking part in any football-related activity.

CAS said in a statement: “The CAS Panel noted that Mr Makudi had presented additional witnesses and new information during the CAS proceedings which was not available to the Fifa instances that issued the previous decisions.

“The additional evidence presented was important for the outcome of the case and the CAS Panel emphasised that Mr Makudi contributed to the fact that three instances were necessary to solve this matter because he failed to call certain witnesses in the proceedings before the Fifa instances, thereby depriving these bodies from the evidence available to CAS, which could have resulted in different decisions of the Adjudicatory Chamber and the Fifa Appeal Committee.

“As a consequence, the CAS Panel did not grant any costs to Mr Makudi, although he was successful in part in this appeal procedure.”

Worawi was serving on the Fifa ExCo when it voted to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively, in December 2010. He had been an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) representative on the powerful body, which has now been replaced by the Fifa Council.