(Reuters) – Sport’s highest global court has upheld FIFA former interim president Issa Hayatou’s appeal against a one-year ban on him for violating the global soccer governing body’s ethics code.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found insufficient evidence to establish a violation by Hayatou, who was Confederation of African Football (CAF) president for 29 years until being voted out in 2017.
“The challenged decision is set aside and no sanction is to be imposed on Hayatou,” CAS said in a statement on Friday.
Cameroon’s Hayatou, 75, was banned from all soccer-related activity at national and international level and fined 30,000 Swiss francs ($32,000) after a decision by the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee on June 17.
FIFA said an investigation into Hayatou’s conduct as CAF president concerned involvement in deals for media and marketing rights of CAF competitions with France-based Lagardere Sports between 2014 and 2017.
The chamber had ruled that Hayatou entered “in the name and on behalf of the confederation, into an anti-competitive agreement with Lagardere Sport which was detrimental and caused significant damage to CAF.”
FIFA had said this amounted to 200 million Egyptian pounds ($13 million) and caused reputational and financial damage.
Hayatou, who was acting president of FIFA from in 2015 and 2016 when Sepp Blatter was suspended amid a widespread corruption scandal, launched an appeal in August seeking annulment of the decision to ban and fine him.
A CAS panel of arbitrators ruled there was insufficient evidence to establish a violation of Article 15, paragraph 1 of the FIFA Code of Ethics that would justify sanctions imposed on Hayatou.
($1 = 0.9254 Swiss francs)
($1 = 15.7100 Egyptian pounds)
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)