HomeNewsBusinessFootballCosta Rica

Fifa hands life ban to former Concacaf ExCo member

Eduardo Li, a former president of the Costa Rican Football Association (FEDEFUTBOL) and Executive Committee member of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf), has become the latest official to be handed a life ban by Fifa.

The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee of world football’s governing body has issued the punishment after an investigation against Li was opened in May 2015. On October 7 2016, Li pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of wire fraud, and one count of wire fraud conspiracy.

He is one of 42 individuals and entities charged in a US investigation into corruption in world football and was one of the seven officials arrested at a Zurich hotel in May 2015. US prosecutors alleged Li and other officials engaged in schemes involving over $200m (€187.6m) in bribes and payments in relation to marketing and broadcasting rights to tournaments and matches.

In court, Li had said he negotiated a $500,000 bribe, of which $300,000 he received, to grant media and marketing rights for 2022 World Cup qualifying matches to a Miami-based unit of Brazilian sports marketing agency Traffic Sports.

Li also said he had agreed to accept a separate $500,000 bribe, $230,000 of which he received, from Panama-based intermediaries for awarding the Costa Rican national team’s kit contract to a US company.

Li has been found guilty of breaches of Fifa’s Code of Ethics relating to general rules of conduct, loyalty), duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting, conflicts of interest and bribery and corruption.

In other news, Concacaf has filed a lawsuit against two of its former leaders implicated in the corruption scandal, claiming it has been victimised by their actions. In papers filed last week in federal court in Brooklyn, Concacaf has accused its former president Jack Warner and general secretary Chuck Blazer of embezzlement.

The suit accuses the pair of negotiating bribes and kickbacks in connection with broadcasting rights for tournaments including the Gold Cup national team event. “There can be no doubt that Warner and Blazer victimised Concacaf, stealing and defrauding it out of tens of millions of dollars in brazen acts of corruption for their own personal benefit at the expense of the entire Concacaf region,” the suit says, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The suit seeks $20m in compensatory damages and unspecified punitive damages. Blazer has pleaded guilty and cooperated in the criminal probe, while Warner is fighting extradition in Trinidad and Tobago, where he has denied any wrongdoing.