Kenyan referee Aden Marwa will not take part in the World Cup in Russia from June 14 to July 15 after he was filmed taking a bribe in a past competition in Ghana.
The secret video showing Marwa taking bribe in 2017 in a hotel lobby was released by the BBC on Thursday.
The referee was seen taking 600 U.S. dollars from an undercover journalist, who posed as a Ghanaian Football Official. The money, according to Marwa, was a gift and a show of goodwill to cement their relationship.
“Thank You for the gift,” said Marwa. But what is important is the friendship for us to know each other.”
According to the BBC, world football governing body FIFA has since confirmed that Marwa has resigned from the World Cup refereeing team. However, the disgraced referee told the BBC he denied any wrong doing.
The undercover journalist also handed huge sums of money to football officials to influence the match outcome and FIFA has pledged to investigate the scam.
Also seen is Ghanaian Football Federation boss Kwesi Nyantakyi, who took a 65,000 dollars gift for shopping to smoothen their prospective sponsorship deal with the undercover journalists.
Nyantakyi sits on FIFA’s Council, one of the highest posts in football administration. FIFA prohibits taking of any gifts and says they are keen to protect the integrity of their competitions.
Marwa was to make history as the first Kenyan referee to officiate in a World Cup.
In April Marwa told Xinhua that the best antidote to biased officiating is to remain non-partisan as a referee. To do so, he chose not to play football or having any specific club to follow as a fan.
Marwa made his first major appearance as a referee at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
FIFA had appointed 16 match officials from Africa out of the 99 officials — 36 referees and 63 assistant referees — picked from 46 different countries. Africa has six referees and now nine assistants after Marwa pulled out.
The selected referees, assistant referees and Video Assistant Referees (VARs) are all being monitored and supported by FIFA Refereeing on an individual basis to ensure they are fully prepared for the World Cup which starts in a week’s time in Russia.