Fifa corruption: World Cup 2018 and 2022 bid inspector Harold Mayne-Nicholls suspended for seven years

Harold Mayne-Nicholls had considered standing in May’s Presidential election

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The Independent Online

The former head of the Chilean Football Federation, Harold Mayne-Nicholls, has been suspended from all football activity for seven years, but world football’s governing body Fifa has failed to give any explanation as to why.

Mr Mayne-Nicholls, a former journalist, was head of the inspection committee for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, and author of a report that advised a summer World Cup in Qatar would pose a serious risk to the health of the players. His findings were ignored by Fifa’s Executive Committee when they voted to award the tournament to the tiny gulf state in 2010, and have since had to switch the date of the tournament to winter. The technical reports concluded that Russia and Qatar would present the most risk to Fifa as potential host nations.

The head of Fifa’s Ethics Committee, the German judge Hans Joachim-Eckert, said “more detailed information” would be given over the decision in due course, but the matter is understood to pertain to Mr Mayne-Nicholl’s attempt to arrange unpaid internships for some young members of his family at Qatar’s South American Aspire Academy.

Mr Mayne-Nicholls had considered standing against Sepp Blatter in May’s Fifa Presidential election. In December, the head of the organisation’s corruption investigation unit, Cornel Borbély, claimed Mr Mayne-Nicholls had accepted gifts, is disloyal to FIFA and does not have “an ethical attitude”. These allegations have been described as a “Kafka-eque witch hunt”, with a former Fifa official and Sepp Blatter adviser Guido Tognoni, saying: “Harold is one of the most honest football officials you could ever meet. The action against him is totally disproportionate considering all that happened around the 2018/2022 bids.”

It has been reported that Mr Mayne Nicholls may have been involved in the leaking of Fifa documents to the FBI, on which the investigation that led to the arrests of seven Fifa executives at their hotel in Zurich six weeks ago was based. Mr Mayne-Nicholls can appeal the suspension to Fifa and, should he fail in that attempt, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.