FIFA bans council member
FIFA council member Wolfgang Niersbach, a member of FIFA's ruling council, was banned from soccer for one year yesterday in the first sanction from the investigation into Germany's 2006 World Cup bid.
FIFA's ethics committee found Niersbach guilty of failing to report findings about possible unethical conduct and conflicts of interest during the bidding process.
Niersbach, who was a vice-president of the 2006 World Cup organising committee in charge of media and marketing, described the punishment as "inappropriate and excessive."
Last year, Niersbach had been considered a possible successor to UEFA President Michel Platini before resigning as president of the German soccer federation when allegations against the bid first surfaced.
Niersbach retained his elected positions on the top decision-making bodies at both FIFA and UEFA. He is the first member of the rebranded FIFA Council, which replaced the discredited executive committee in May, to be sanctioned by the ethics division.
"This decision hits me hard," Niersbach said. "I was confident after last Thursday's hearing in Zurich that the ethics commission would not impose a ban, but that it would follow my argument that I am only to blame for a belated report on the critical payments between the 2006 World Cup organising committee and FIFA in 2005, of which I gradually became aware in the summer of 2015, and that it would set a different