The suspended president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Marco Polo Del Nero, has been banned from football for life by FIFA’s ethics committee for bribery and fined one million Swiss francs (733,171 pounds), the global soccer body said on Friday.
FIFA said that Del Nero had been investigated over “schemes in which he received bribes in exchange for his role in awarding contracts to companies for the media and marketing rights to various football tournaments.”
These included the Copa America, the Copa Libertadores – the South American equivalent of the Champions League – and the domestic Copa Brasil tournament.
In doing so, he violated ethics rules on bribery, offering and accepting gifts, loyalty, conflict of interest and general rules of conduct, FIFA said.
Del Nero, a former member of FIFA’s executive committee, denied wrongdoing and told Reuters he would appeal.
“Yes, I’ve seen the news from FIFA and I can only describe it as a big absurdity,” he said in a brief telephone conversation.
In a statement to Reuters, his lawyers said he had received the decision with “surprise and indignation”.
“It’s important to emphasise that the investigation was not capable of producing any proof relating to his supposed involvement in corruption schemes,” it said.
It said the committee had made “innumerable procedural violations” which it described as “a clear affront to the most basic principles of defence and due legal process.”
The 77-year-old was among several dozen soccer officials and sports marketing executives indicted in the United States in 2015 in a corruption scandal that sparked the biggest crisis in FIFA’s history.
His two immediate predecessors, Jose Maria Marin and Ricardo Teixeira, were also among those indicted in the United States.
Brazil does not allow the extradition of its own citizens and Del Nero had remained as president of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) until FIFA provisionally suspended him in December.
Teixeira has also remained in Brazil where he denies wrongdoing.
Marin, among seven officials arrested in Zurich during a FIFA event in May 2015, was extradited to the United States and convicted by a federal jury in December of three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and two counts of money laundering conspiracy.
He is awaiting sentencing.
Del Nero was in Zurich at the time of Marin’s arrest and returned home the following day.
Dozens of soccer officials have been banned by FIFA’s own ethics committee in the past five years, some of them for life.
Those suspended include former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, banned for six years, and former European soccer boss Michel Platini, banned for four.