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Fifa hands life bans to trio of former Conmebol executives

Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

World football’s governing body Fifa has today (Tuesday) handed life bans to three more senior former South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) executives, including Manuel Burga, who in December 2017 was acquitted of a racketeering conspiracy charge by a US court.

The sanctions handed out by the adjudicatory chamber of the Fifa Ethics Committee relate to Burga, a former member of the Conmebol Executive Committee, former president of the Peruvian Football Association and a former Fifa standing committee member.

He has been found guilty of bribery in violation of the Fifa Code of Ethics alongside Eduardo Deluca, a former Conmebol general secretary and former member of several Fifa standing committees; and José Luis Meiszner, also a former Conmebol general secretary and a former general secretary of the Argentinian Football Association.

The investigation proceedings against the trio concerned their respective roles in bribery schemes in awarding contracts to companies for the media and marketing rights to Conmebol competitions (Deluca) and Conmebol and Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) competitions (Meiszner and Burga), during the periods between 2004 and 2012, 2012 and 2015 and 2010 and 2015, respectively.

In its decisions, the adjudicatory chamber found that the three men had breached Article 27 (bribery) of the Code of Ethics and, as a result, sanctioned them with a life ban. Each of the three men has been fined CHF1m (€913,000/$1m).

Burga was acquitted of racketeering conspiracy in Brooklyn federal court two days after fellow ex-South American football officials Juan Napout and José Maria Marin were found guilty of multiple corruption charges.

However, in its rulings issued today, Fifa said it uncovered “overwhelming evidence” that Burga received or was promised $6.6m in bribes linked to marketing deals for the Copa America and Copa Libertadores. The ruling stated Burga’s guilt in its investigation was “particularly serious” and he showed no awareness of wrongdoing “in spite of the overwhelming evidence against him.”

Deluca and Meiszner were among the 16 people from the world of football charged by US prosecutors in December 2015 with participating in alleged bribery schemes surrounding marketing and media-rights deals in Latin and Central America.

In September, Fifa issued a life ban to former Conmebol president Napout, more than a year after he was sentenced to a nine-year prison term for his role in the corruption scandal that engulfed the sport back in 2015.

Fifa’s sanctioning of Napout came after his fellow former Conmebol president, Nicolas Leoz, another key figure in the corruption scandal, died at the age of 90 in August. Earlier that month, Fifa handed a life ban to Romer Osuna, former treasurer and member of the Executive Committee of Conmebol.