FIFA's ethics watchdog banned three former football officials for life "as part of efforts to address widespread corruption in the sport," according to John Miller of REUTERS. The latest officials to be hit by FIFA bans are Richard Lai, the former Guam FA president and a former member of the FIFA audit and compliance committee; Julio Rocha, the former Nicaraguan FA president and a former FIFA development officer; and Rafael Esquivel, former Venezuelan FA president. All three men pleaded guilty in the U.S. to separate federal charges "ranging from wire fraud to racketeering and money laundering" (REUTERS, 11/21).
OFF THE BOOKS: REUTERS' Rosenberg & Pierson reported a government witness testified on Monday about millions of dollars paid to former football officials "in exchange for broadcasting and sponsorship rights" for int'l tournaments, "all logged in a secret spreadsheet." The witness, Santiago Peña, said that he was a financial manager at Argentina-based sports marketing firm Full Play from '09-15 and "kept an Excel file which he presented in court." It detailed payments made to what he said were eight officials from CONMEBOL. Each of the officials was "given a code name in the spreadsheet of different car brands," Peña testified. Former Paraguay Football Federation President Juan Ángel Napout was "Honda" and former Peru Football Federation President Manuel Burga was "Fiat" (REUTERS, 11/20).
Thai League 1 players, referees and a club director are "among a dozen people under investigation for match fixing," Thai officials said Tuesday, "in a scandal that threatens to engulf the domestic football league." The men were arrested and released on bail after a year-long probe found the halftime or fulltime scores of "at least four" top tier matches this season were fixed. The 12 are accused of "receiving money or benefits to throw a game" (AFP, 11/21).
FIFA said that it has been speaking to Richard McLaren "as part of an investigation into alleged doping." McLaren produced a report that "detailed a Russian state-sponsored doping program" in which he listed 33 footballers, prompting FIFA to launch its inquiry. The global football body said that it has been in touch with McLaren at "several stages" of the investigation (BBC, 11/21).
EPL side Everton striker Oumar Niasse is the first Premier League player to be charged by the FA for "successful deception of a match official." The Senegal int'l won a "controversial penalty" during Saturday's 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace. New laws were introduced in May, "allowing players to be charged after a game for simulation" (BBC, 11/21).
The Asian Football Confederation launched a "mobile whistleblower app" which will enable fans, players and officials to "report suspicious activities or supply information on matchfixing and other forms of corruption in football." The app will link to the AFC Integrity Unit (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 11/21).
The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Arabian Football Federation. The associations will organize "training sessions and camps, friendly matches and development workshops for technical staff" (SOCCEREX, 11/21).