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Blatter Gives Corrupt Official Clemency
Geneva, April 8, 2008 – FIFA's rotund president Sepp Blatter has lifted a ban on firebrand Somali official Farah Addo by executive decree.
Addo was fined and suspended by football's governing body in 2003 after claims of bribery and corruption were leveled against him.
However, the Somali courted controversy in 2002 when he alleged that Blatter won the FIFA presidential election in 1998 and 2002 by making 'irregular financial payments' to voting delegates.
A Swiss court prohibited Addo from making 'defamatory statements' about the president and also ordered that he pay Blatter $10, 000 in damages.
Just months later Blatter got his revenge by banning Addo, who was the incumbent president of the Somali Football Federation, because he siphoned FIFA funding meant for football development into his personal bank account.
Addo was also slapped with a $40, 000 fine from FIFA.
The Somaliland Times also alleged that 'a significant portion of the aid money was reportedly even used for financing the war activities of Addo's own tribal militiamen in Mogadishu'.
While the truth of these accusations remain disputed, Addo was barred from all FIFA affiliated organizations until this week.
Blatter met the banned official at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana and has since acquiesced to Addo's appeal for clemency.
"During our brief discussion (at the Nations Cup), you asked me, in my capacity as FIFA president, for a pardon in the unfortunate situation that led to your ban from taking part in any football-related activities for 10 years; as decided by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on 20 July 2004," Blatter told the BBC.
"With this in mind, I take pleasure in informing you herewith that your ban has indeed been lifted by presidential decision, with immediate effect."
While Addo is far from a saintly figure, his unbanning again puts the spotlight on FIFA's ringmaster. Blatter has been blighted by claims of bribery since his election 10 years ago.
The Swiss national won the 1998 election against Lennart Johansson in acrimonious circumstances.
The British media as well as Addo claimed that Blatter's cronies offered voting officials $100,000 to vote for their man.
Andrew Jennings' book Foul! and BBC's Panorama also uncovered evidence implicating the 72-year-old in bribery and corruption.
And despite Blatter's claims that FIFA is open and transparent, he is yet to present conclusive evidence that he and the organization have operated legitimately.
Furthermore, it is difficult to understand how Addo's return to football is 'for the good of the game'.