Lausanne, 30 March 2015 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal filed by Vernon Manilal Fernando from Sri Lanka, former FIFA Executive Committee member. As a consequence, the decision rendered on 9 October 2013 by the FIFA Appeals Committee, which bans Manilal Fernando from taking part in any football-related activity for life, from 11 March 2013, is confirmed.
The dispute is related to the election at the 2009 AFC Congress, for one of the AFC seats on the FIFA Executive Committee. In September 2012, during an inquiry conducted by the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee concerning allegations of corruption against Mohamed Bin Hammam, not related to the 2009 AFC election, Mr Manilal Fernando was suspected of having violated the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE). Subsequently, disciplinary proceedings were opened against him. On 30 April 2013, the Adjudicatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee found Mr Manilal Fernando guilty of having infringed art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 19 (Conflict of interests), art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits), and art. 21 (Bribery and corruption) of the FCE. He was banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity for a period of 8 years, from 11 March 2013. On 9 October 2013, with grounds communicated on 11 March 2014, the FIFA Appeals Committee, following the appeals filed by Mr Manilal Fernando and by the Chief of the Investigatory Chamber, confirmed the findings of the Adjudicatory Chamber but imposed a life ban on Mr Manilal Fernando.
In his appeal at the CAS, Vernon Manilal Fernando did not object to the bribery charges but considered that the FCE should only apply to bribes to third parties and not to other FIFA officials which cannot be accepted. The CAS Panel has determined that Mr Manilal Fernando has failed to discharge the evidential burden which lies upon him to undermine the violations of the FCE and accordingly has found him guilty of such violations.
The CAS Panel expressed a strong message intended to all members of the sporting community, acting in whatever capacity: if one is involved in bribery then one may expect to exile from the sport. For this reason, the Panel confirmed that a finding of bribery should result in the maximum sanction. Accordingly, the Panel confirms the FIFA decision to impose a life ban on Vernon Manilal Fernando from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for life, from 11 March 2013.