UEFA gives soccer official life ban for racist behavior

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People walk past a poster reading “Karabakh is Azerbaijan” in Ganja, Azerbaijan’s second largest city, near the border with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has vowed to rebuild and revive the Kalbajar region, which Armenian forces ceded in a truce that ended six weeks of intense fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — A club official from Azerbaijan was banned from soccer for life by UEFA on Thursday for “racist behavior” after posting comments on social media.

Nurlan Ibrahimov wrote the comments, which were allegedly about Armenians and not linked to soccer, during conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia which flared again in September over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

UEFA, which did not give details about the comments, said it would ask FIFA to extend the ban worldwide against Ibrahimov, who worked as a press officer for Europa League club Qarabağ.

Qarabağ was also fined 100,000 euros ($119,000) by UEFA’s disciplinary panel, which found charges of “racist behavior” and an incident “of a non-sporting nature” proven against the club and its employee.

The Armenian soccer federation had urged UEFA to remove Qarabağ from the Europa League for Ibrahimov’s comments.

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