FIFA suspends Ex-All India Football Federation Official for involvement in Bin Hammam bribery scandal

Published 04 December 2014 | Authored by: Manali Kulkarni

In the wake of facing the pressure to make the full FIFA World Cup Corruption report1 public, the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee announced on November 27, 2014, that Alberto Colaco, former All India Football Federation (AIFF)2 general secretary, has been banned for 3 years for accepting a bribe relating to the FIFA Executive Committee elections at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)3 Congress in May 2009.4 In addition to being AIFF general secretary, Colaco was AIFF’s voting delegate5, involved with Goan Football, as well a consultant for IMG-Reliance and national broadcasters.6

The incident in question relates to the election of the Executive Committee of FIFA on May 8, 2009 in Kuala Lumpur. Colaco was stated in the report as having accepted a bribe from Mohamed bin Hammam, who was running for re-election as AFC President, in exchange for his vote in the election.7

Bin Hammam won, with 23 to 21 votes against the candidate from Bahrain, allowing him to continue in his role as AFC President;8 a fact that is thought to have impacted the votes for hosting the 2018 or 2022 World Cups, which are at the center of the FIFA’s recent Corruption Report. Bin Hammam’s win reflected positively for Australia’s 2022 bid for the World Cup, as Bin Hammam approved Australia to join the AFC9 as a member association,10 and was expected to support Australia over the other AFC bidders for the 2022 World Cup.11

As of December 15, 2012, Hammam resigned and received a life ban from FIFA for breaching Article 19, ‘Conflicts of Interest’ of the 2012 FIFA Code of Ethics12.13

By accepting a bribe, FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Colaco in violation of five articles of the Code of Ethics:14

  1. Article 1315 which sets out the ethical and conduct related expectations;
  2. Article 1816, which provides detail on issues such as the individual’s duty to disclose, and the obligation to provide all relevant details of the alleged breach when requested by the Ethics Committee;
  3. Article 19,17 which addresses considerations for conflicts of interest by outlining when to disclose any potential conflicts of interest, and that all conflicts of interest should be reported immediately;
  4. And the final two Articles that Colaco is banned under are directly applicable as they focus on matters of accepting gifts and bribery:

  5. Article 20, ‘Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits’,18 states:
  6. 1. Persons bound by this Code may only offer or accept gifts or other benefits to and from persons within or outside FIFA, or in conjunction with intermediaries or related parties as defined in this Code, which

    1. have symbolic or trivial value;
    2. exclude any influence for the execution or omission of an act that is
    3. related to their official activities or falls within their discretion;
    4. are not contrary to their duties;
    5. do not create any undue pecuniary or other advantage and
    6. do not create a conflict of interest.
    7. Any gifts or other benefits not meeting all of these criteria are prohibited.

    2. If in doubt, gifts shall not be offered or accepted. In all cases, persons bound by this Code shall not offer to or accept from anyone within or outside FIFA cash in any amount or form.”...;

  7. Article 21, ‘Bribery and corruption’,19 states:
  8. 1.... In particular, persons bound by this Code must not offer, promise, give or accept any undue pecuniary or other advantage for the execution or omission of an act that is related to their official activities and is contrary to their duties or falls within their discretion. Any such offer must be reported to the Ethics Committee and any failure to do so shall be sanctionable in accordance with this Code.”...

Even though Colaco is stated not to have initiated the bribe in the 2009 elections, his acceptance of the payment and decision not to report Hammam’s actions are breach of FIFA’s Code of Ethics. Colaco’s ban was effective immediately on November 27, 2014 and applies to his involvement in any football-related activity on a national and international level. 20

 

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About the Author

Manali Kulkarni

Manali Kulkarni

Manali is the COO at LawInSport and executive contributor of the editorial board for LawInSport. She holds an LLM in Sports Law from Nottingham Law School (Nottingham Trent University).

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