BERNE, (Reuters) – Four Caribbean soccer officials have been banned, including Jamaica Football Federation president Horace Burrell, for their part in a cash-for-votes scandal in the run-up to this year’s FIFA presidential election.
Two other officials were reprimanded and fined by FIFA’s ethics committee, one was reprimanded and another five were given warnings, FIFA said in a statement on Friday.
The longest ban from all football-related activity, 18 months, was handed to Franka Pickering, president of the British Virgin Islands FA, who was also fined 500 Swiss francs ($560).
The cases are related to a meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on May 10 and 11 where it was alleged that FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam handed out bribes to Caribbean members of CONCACAF — the regional body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Former Asian soccer chief Bin Hammam has since been banned for life by FIFA but has protested his innocence along with ex-CONCACAF president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago.
Warner, like Bin Hammam a FIFA executive committee member when the scandal blew up, was also under investigation by FIFA for allegedly offering bribes but resigned before the probe was completed.
Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy before the presidential vote, allowing Sepp Blatter to be re-elected for a fourth successive term as head of soccer’s world governing body.
Several Caribbean officials described receiving brown envelopes containing $40,000 in cash at the meeting.
Burrell, a long-time Warner ally, has been banned for six months, three of which have been suspended for a probationary period of two years.
Osiris Guzman, president of the Dominican Republic FA, and Ian Hypolite, general secretary of the St Vincent and the Grenadines FA, were suspended for 30 days, 15 of which were suspended for a probationary period of six months.
They were also fined 300 Swiss francs each by the ethics committee, headed by former Switzerland international Claudio Sulser.
Aubrey Liburd (British Virgin Islands) and Hillaren Frederick, president of the U.S. Virgin Islands FA, were reprimanded and fined 300 Swiss francs each while Anthony Johnson, president of the St Kitts and Nevis FA, was reprimanded.
David Hinds and Mark Bob Forde (both Barbados), Richard Groden (Trinidad & Tobago), Yves Jean-Bart (president of the Haiti FA) and Horace Reid (Jamaica) were warned.
Jean-Bart was injured in last year’s earthquake in Haiti and subsequently gave a lengthy interview to CNN describing the destruction.
Felix Ledesma (Dominican Republic) was considered not to have committed any violation.
The cases of David Frederick (Cayman Islands) and Joseph Delves (president of the St. Vincent and Grenadines FA) were closed since they are no longer football officials.
“Should they return to football official positions, their cases would be examined again by the Ethics Committee,” FIFA said.
Last month, FIFA handed a 26-month ban to Colin Klass, president of the Guyana FA, for his involvement in the Caribbean Football Union meeting in May.
The decisions came one week before a FIFA executive committee meeting where Blatter is expected to give a progress report on the fight against corruption which has rocked soccer’s governing body in the last year.