Former African Player of the Year Bwalya’s ban cut on appeal

Kalusha Bwalya
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ZURICH (Reuters) – Zambia’s former African Footballer of the Year, Kalusha Bwalya, has had his two-year ban from football reduced by FIFA on appeal and is free to return to the sport immediately, soccer’s governing body said on Monday.

Bwalya, who was president of his country’s football association from 2008 to 2016, was banned from all football-related activity in August after an investigation into his links to banned Qatar official Mohammed Bin Hammam.

FIFA’s appeal committee said in a statement that “after analysing and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case”, it had reduced the ban which would end immediately.

The 55-year-old has denied wrongdoing throughout.

Bwalya was voted African Player of the Year in 1988, won 87 caps for Zambia and later went on to be coach of the national team and then FA president.

He is also a former member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee.

In 1993, a flight carrying the Zambia team to a World Cup qualifier in Senegal crashed following a stopover in Gabon, killing all on board, but Bwalya escaped as he made his own way to the match from his club in the Netherlands.

Bwalya was found guilty by FIFA’s ethics committee in August of violating articles on confidentiality and offering and accepting gifts and other benefits.

FIFA said the investigation “focused principally on benefits that Mr Bwalya had received from Mr Bin Hammam.”

Bin Hammam was banned for life from football by FIFA in 2011 for his part in a cash-for-votes scandal. The Qatari has denied any wrongdoing.