World soccer body FIFA announced on Monday it had banned two officials from Nepal and Laos for taking cash during FIFA elections, extending moves to root out corruption that has shaken the international game.
Ganesh Thapa, president of the All-Nepal Football Association (ANFA), was banned for 10 years and fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($19,870), while Viphet Sihachakr, president of the Laotian Football Federation, received a two-year ban and 40,000 franc fine.
Lao Football Federation’s (LFF) leading committee has promised to keep going with their work aiming to promote Lao football in the future, after the LFF president was suspended by FIFA for misconduct.
The LFF committee told reporters at a press conference in Vientiane yesterday that nothing will change in the plan and work of the federation because everything must continue, both in regard to domestic activities and also those abroad.
The federation arranged a press conference to officially announce the reason FIFA banned its president for two years and fined him almost US$40,000, as well as announce the acting president of the federation during the period of the ban.
The conference noted that the federation committee agreed to select Mr Pasatxay Philaphandeth to work as acting president of the federation during the two-year ban of President Mr Viphet Sihachakr.
Mr Pasatxay promised the media that everything must go on even though the president will no longer be with the federation in the interim.
“Our tournaments both locally and internationally will keep going, as well as the development plan and the support budget for the development.”
“Everything will be the same. There will be no changes. It is only that the president has been ruled by FIFA to step down in the interim,” he explained.
Xinhua news agency reported on Monday that the sport’s governing body stated that Lao Football Federation President Mr Viphet was found to have sought and accepted a payment from another official relating to the 2011 election for a place on FIFA’s executive committee.
Mr Viphet officially announced to local press that he never accepted payment from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) as was published in the world media reports as well as the FIFA statement.
The problem began in 2010 when he was elected to be the president and since then his goal had been to develop football in Laos. He got a chance in 2011 when he became an AFC Executive Committee member and he then asked for support from the confederation.
The AFC agreed to sponsor Lao football in 2011 and sent some money to Mr Viphet’s account, who apparently thought that wouldn’t be a problem.
According to Mr Viphet, he then continued to transfer the money to the federation account for the development of football. “We have all the documents and have sent them to FIFA since 2011 but finally they banned me,” Mr Viphet said.
When the AFC transferred the support money it should have gone to the federation’s account but it didn’t have one so the I told them to send the money to my personal account, Mr Viphet explained.
Mr Viphet Sihachakr is a successful local businessman who was elected president of the federation in 2010 and then became a member of the FIFA Development Committee for five years, AFC Executive Committee member from 2015-2018 and Vice Chairman of the Marketing Committee for the same period.
He was also Vice President of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) from 2011-2014 and is Chair of the AFF Media and Communications Committee for 2015-18.
FIFA have banned him for two years and fined him almost US$40,000.
Acting President Mr Pasatxay said that the president is currently preparing lawyers in Laos and Switzerland to defend his rights and ensure justice prevails.
“We will announce to the media the progress of his problems but the federation will not stop here, we will continue to work hard for the development of Lao football,” he said.