Former Zambian international and African football great Kalusha Bwalya has vowed to fight a two-year football ban imposed on him on Friday by the world football governing body, FIFA.
In an official statement posted on his social media pages, the player turned coach and president of the Zambian football body said he was surprise and saddened by the notice.
“I have instructed my legal team to immediately appeal this decision urgently and would like to state that I am NOT guilty of any offence, which allegedly took place.
“I have never done and will never do anything to bring the beautiful game into disrepute and stand by the facts provided by me to the committee.
“I unfortunately cannot provide any further details as my legal team has advised I that this would jeopardize my chances of obtaining leave to appeal. FIFAs decision is not final and I will fight tooth and nail for justice to clear my name,” the statement added.
FIFA reported having banned him from the game for two years after an investigation into his links to banned Qatari official Mohammed Bin Hammam.
The adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee said on Friday that they had banned Bwalya, a member of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), for two years from “all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level.”
FIFA said in a statement they had been investigating the 54-year-old Bwalya since February 2017 “focused principally on benefits that Mr Bwalya had received from Mr Bin Hammam.”
“The adjudicatory chamber found Mr Bwalya guilty of having violated art. 16 (Confidentiality) and art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) of the FIFA Code of Ethics. A fine in the amount of CHF 100,000 ($100,573.2) was also imposed on Mr Bwalya.”
Bwalya, was voted African Player of the Year in 1988 and later went on to be coach of the Zambia national team and president of the Zambian Football Association.
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.