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FIFA bans ex-World Cup bid inspection chief for seven years

Zurich: Football's world governing body FIFA yesterday banned the former head of their bid evaluation committee for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups for seven years for "confidentiality" breaches.

Harold Mayne-Nicholls, a former Chilean FA president, wrote the report that gave Qatar the worst ranking of the candidates for the 2022 World Cup finals which the wealthy Gulf state went on to win. FIFA's Ethics Committee adjudicatory chamber banned Mayne -Nicholls, 54, "from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level for a period of seven years", a statement said.

The world governing body did not give details of the charges against Mayne-Nicholls, but said it was for a breach of a confidentiality rule in FIFA's code of ethics. Mayne-Nicholls revealed in November that he was under investigation over emails he sent to the Aspire Academy in Qatar seeking internships for his son and a nephew. He also sought tennis coaching opportunities for a brother-in-law.

He was at the time considering running against Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency. The Chilean said the internships were "unpaid", British media said. Aspire Acedemy turned down Mayne-Nicholls' requests. The reports quoted an email sent to Mayne-Nicholls by a FIFA Ethics Committee deputy chairman, Cornel Borbely, which said the approaches were made "shortly after the inspection tour and prior to the issuance of the evaluation report on Qatar."

"Furthermore, said behaviour seems to be a cause enough to doubt the integrity of the inspection process and your evaluations." Mayne-Nicholls denied at the time he had done anything wrong. He did not immediately comment on the FIFA sanction. FIFA said that Mayne-Nicholls was present at a hearing where the ban was decided and that more detailed information would be given after the final decision becomes effective.

The FIFA evaluation committee gave Qatar its worst ranking, mainly because of the summer heat in the Gulf state. FIFA has since held an inquiry into the bid process for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 tournament, and has changed the date of the Qatar tournament to November-December because of concerns about the heat.

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