World football’s governing body, for life Friday following a lengthy investigation by the organization’s ethics panel.
The lifetime ban was decided about two months before Webb, 51, of Cayman, was due to be sentenced in U.S. federal court for his role in a US$200 million bribery investigation that rocked international football last year.
According to a statement issued by FIFA Friday morning: Webb was banned from “all football-related activities on a national and international level.”
The ruling, made by the ethics committee, chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert, took immediate effect Friday. A fine was also leveled against Webb as part of the committee’s decision to ban him, totaling $1 million Swiss francs (US$1.03 million).
The ethics committee began investigating former FIFA Vice President Webb, along with 10 other prominent world football officials, after a dozen arrests were made on May 27, 2015 related to the bribery investigation. Webb was one of seven top FIFA officials arrested at a hotel in Zurich, Switzerland as part of the probe by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S Internal Revenue Services.
Among those whom the ethics committee investigated along with Webb were former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner of Trinidad and former Cayman Islands resident and Webb attache Costas Takkas. Warner has already been banned for life from FIFA, but has not been extradited to the U.S. to face charges.
According to FIFA’s Friday press release, a final report on Webb’s activities was transmitted to the ethics committee’s adjudicatory chamber in April 2016. Formal proceedings against the Cayman Islands resident were opened in May and the committee’s final decision on the ban was made public last week. FIFA’s Ethics Committee found Webb guilty of violating general rules of conduct, rules of loyalty, rules for disclosure and financial reporting, conflicts of interest and bribery and corruption.
Webb pleaded guilty in November 2015 to seven counts of criminal conduct in relation to what American prosecutors said was a decades-long bribery scheme. Webb pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, three counts of wire fraud conspiracy and three counts of money laundering conspiracy. He faces sentencing on Nov. 18, 2016 in U.S. federal court.
The scheme described by U.S. prosecutors alleged Webb and others at FIFA solicited bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for directing lucrative broadcasting and commercial rights deals for various football tournaments – including the World Cup – to the bribe-payers. Dozens of U.S. banks were used to make those alleged bribe payments to Webb and others, prosecutors said. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the racketeering charge alone.
An updated indictment in the case, issued in December, also accused Webb and other unnamed co-conspirators of using FIFA funds earmarked for community projects for personal expenses.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn has declined to name the co-conspirators referred to and, thus far in the investigation, no one from Cayman other than Webb and former resident Takkas has been charged.
Webb was due to be sentenced in June of this year, but that date was put off after requests from his attorneys.