FIFA Council member Niersbach loses appeal of 1-year ban

LONDON (AP) The rebranded FIFA Council lost its first member because of a scandal.

Wolfgang Niersbach quit the ruling body on Friday after losing an appeal against a ban from soccer in relation to Germany's 2006 World Cup bid.

The FIFA ethics committee imposed a one-year ban this year after finding Niersbach guilty of failing to report findings about possible unethical conduct and conflicts of interest during the bidding process.

FIFA said Friday that its appeal committee agreed with the findings of the ethics committee that ''a one-year ban from taking part in any football-related activity at national and international level was adequate in this case.''

Niersbach responded to the verdict by announcing he was stepping down from his positions on the rule-making committees at both FIFA and UEFA.

''The decision is extremely hard for me because I remain of the opinion that the ethics committee's judgment is completely excessive,'' the German said.

The 66-year-old Niersbach is the first member of the FIFA Council, which replaced the discredited executive committee in May, to be sanctioned by the ethics division.

Niersbach, who ruled out appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, was a vice president of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee, in charge of media and marketing.

Swiss federal prosecutors, and German criminal and tax investigators, also have wider ongoing criminal cases into the 2006 World Cup - a hugely successful tournament at the time which the host nation called its ''Summer Fairytale.''

Niersbach is a suspect in a Swiss criminal case investigating fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7.3 million) to FIFA in 2005.

Niersbach had tried to hold on to his positions of leadership within European and world soccer despite resigning as German federation president in November 2015.

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Associated Press writer Ciaran Fahey in Berlin contributed to this report.

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