FIFA hands 7-year ban to 2018, 2022 World Cup bid inspector

Qatar 2022 World Cup bid chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani poses with Harold Mayne-Nicholls, head of FIFA's six-man inspection team, during the FIFA Inspection Tour for the country's bid, in Doha September 16, 2010 (Reuters /  Stringer)
The head of the team which was tasked with assessing candidates for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, has been handed a seven year ban on conducting any football-related activity by FIFA for violating the organization’s code of ethics.

“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee, chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert, has decided to ban Harold Mayne-Nicholls, former chairman of the Bid Evaluation Group for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups and former Chilean Football Association President, from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level for a period of seven years,” a statement on FIFA’s website said.

The ban was handed down after a hearing on Monday, in the presence of Mayne-Nicholls and the head of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Dr Cornel Borbely.

The reasons for the ruling were not revealed, with the football’s governing body promising “more detailed information … after the final decision becomes effective.”

Article 36 of the FIFA Code of Ethics prevents the Ethics Committee members from sharing any details of the case prematurely, with perpetrators to “be suspended by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee until the next FIFA Congress.”

The investigation against Mayne-Nicholls was launched in November last year, with British media reporting that he has been probed over links to the Qatari Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence.

READ MORE: FIFA’s Blatter accuses French, German ex-presidents of meddling with World Cup vote

The 53-year-old football official allegedly addressed the Aspire Academy head via e-mail regarding the possibility of unpaid internships for his son, nephew and brother-in-law.

However, no internships were ever provided by the academy, with Mayne-Nicholls denying any wrongdoing.

It was also revealed that the much-criticized decision to give 2022 World Cup to Qatar was made by the FIFA Executive Committee contrary to recommendations from Mayne-Nicholls.

The bid assessing the team head described the Gulf State as a high-risk option due to too very high temperatures in summer.

The investigation also shattered Mayne-Nicholls’s plans to run in the FIFA presidential election, which took place this May.

Voting, which took place amid a massive corruption scandal in FIFA, saw Sepp Blatter reelected for his fifth term as the head of the organization.

But several days later Blatter announced that he would be leaving his position after his successor is elected sometime between December 2015 and March 2016.

Fourteen FIFA-linked officials and businessmen have been accused by the US of bribery, fraud and money laundering worth more than $150 million.

READ MORE: US asks for extradition of 7 FIFA officials - Swiss authorities

Several arrests were made in a Zurich hotel where officials had gathered ahead of the organization’s general meeting. American investigators are now pushing for their extradition.

Swiss prosecutors are also investigating the awarding of the World Cups 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar, respectively, to ascertain whether the votes were clean and legal.