March 15 – Suspended Oceania vice-president Lee Harmon has protested his innocence after being hit with a three-month ban by FIFA over the resale of tickets at last summer’s World Cup in Russia, questioning the timing and saying everything was above board.
Harmon’s suspension, which prevented him from attended this week’s Fifa Council meeting in Miami, was latest blow to FIFA’s scandal-plagued smallest confederation.
FIFA said Harmon, president of the Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA), had “mutually agreed” the sanction with its ethics committee in a plea bargain following an investigation which began in July shortly after the tournament.
But in an emailed statement to his local Cook Islands newspaper, Harmon denied doing anything wrong and said he was simply trying to help his federation (CIFA).
“I did not receive any benefit personally,” said Harmon’s email seen by InsideWorldFootball.
“The arrangement was pursuant to a written contract, approved by CIFA and all transactions took place through CIFA’s bank account, which is audited annually.”
He also questioned the timing of the suspension which took place on the eve the recent Oceania Football (OFC) elections held in Auckland where he was running for president.
“I can’t understand why they started the inquiry in the middle of last year 2018 and hand down my suspension yesterday” – a reference to just before the election.
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