Fifa corruption: Richard Lai, Julio Rocha and Rafael Esquivel banned from football for life

Officials all pleaded guilty to corruption charges in April

Jack de Menezes
Tuesday 21 November 2017 12:39 GMT
Three Fifa officials have been banned from football for life
Three Fifa officials have been banned from football for life (Getty)

The Fifa Ethics Committee has banned three leading official from all football for life.

Richard Lai, Julio Rocha and Rafael Esquivel pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the United States and have been given life-time sanctions as a result.

Mr Lai, from Guam, was a former member of Fifa’s Audit and Compliance Committee and was also head of the Guam Football Association. He pleaded guilty to two charges of wire fraud conspiracy and revealed that he had received nearly $1m [£773,000] in bribes in April.

Mr Rocha, the former head of the Nicaraguan Football Federation, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy in April, with authorities claiming that he negotiated and accepted more than $150,000 [£113,340] in bribes linked to the sale of marketing rights. Having been president of the Nicaraguan Football Federation from 1998 to 2012, he then took up a role as Fifa development officer until his arrest in May 2015.

Mr Esquivel, the former Venezuela Football Federation president, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy after participating in bribery schemes related to awarding media and marketing rights contracts. He has already agreed to forfeit $16m [£12.09m], which raises the total forfeitures in the Fifa corruption scandal to more than $200m. As well as his role with the Venezuela Football Federation between 1988 and 2015, Mr Esquivel was the vice-president of the South American confederation Conmebol.

Julio Rocha pleaded guilty to accepting more than £113,000 in bribes (Getty)

Mr Lai’s guilty plea also implicated sporting powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the president of the Association of National Olympic Committees and the head of the Olympic Council of Asia. He was identified in the indictment of Lai as “co-conspirator number two”, and he resigned from all of his footballing roles including his position on Fifa’s Council.

Rafael Esquivel agreed to forfeit $16m after pleading guilty to corruption (Getty)

Sheikh Ahmad also relinquished his role roles on the Fifa Reform Committee and the Asian Football Confederation Executive Committee.

Sheikh Ahmad denies any wrongdoing.

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