FIFA Bans Ruling Council Member

FIFA has banned Lee Harmon, a member of its ruling Council, for three months after he was found guilty of reselling tickets at last year’s World Cup in Russia.

The 51-year-old, President of the Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA), and FIFA “mutually agreed” on the sanctions, which also included a fine of 20,000 Swiss Francs (£15,000/$20,000) following the conclusion of an investigation launched last July shortly after the end of the tournament.

Lee Harmon, President of Cook Islands Football Association (CIFA)

The ban means Harmon cannot attend next week’s FIFA Council meeting in Miami, where the remaining 36 members will discuss its President Gianni Infantino’s plans to revamp the Club World Cup, as well as his desire to expand the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from 32 teams to 48.

Harmon will also miss the Council meeting after that in Paris in June and the FIFA Congress in the French capital on June 5. 

The vice-president of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) will also be forced to miss the Congress of the regional association due to meet in Auckland on Saturday (March 9).

Harmon has been CIFA President since 1997 and a FIFA Council member since 2016.

Harmon has also been a match commissioner and referee assessor at various FIFA tournaments and international matches.

Last week, FIFA banned former senior vice-president and OFC President David Chung for six-and-a-half years for accepting gifts and acting under a conflict of interest.

The Papua New Guinea official had suddenly resigned from his roles in April 2018.

It followed a financial probe into the construction of the new OFC “Home of Football” headquarters in Auckland in New Zealand.

FIFA revealed they had uncovered “potential irregularities” with the $20 million (£14 million/€16 million) project which led to them cutting funding to the region.

Harmon’s ban means that the OFC’s only representative for the next two Council meeting will be American Samoa’s Sandra Fruean.