A federal judge said soccer moms seeking to protect youths from head injuries can’t cite FIFA’s global corruption scandal to discredit the sport’s governing body in their court case.
Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, came four days after FIFA accused the parents of bringing a frivolous request to include the U.S. indictment of current and ex-FIFA officials in a case about how to reduce the risk of concussions in youth soccer.
Hamilton said the 161-page indictment isn’t fair game for the parents’ case, while rejecting FIFA’s bid to sanction them. The charging papers against the organization aren’t evidence of anything, she said.
“The foundation of the administration of our criminal law has long included the presumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty,” she wrote.
The judge last month said she had “grave concerns” about “inconsistencies, contradictions and a lack of clarity” in the parents’ complaint.
After the corruption scandal broke, the soccer moms challenged the credibility of submissions in their case made by FIFA officials, including Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who a person familiar with the indictment said is the unidentified “high-ranking” official at the organization described by prosecutors as authorizing a $10 million bribe.
The case before Hamilton was filed last year on behalf of parents and former players who say the sport exposes young players to the risk of brain damage.
The case is Mehr v. Federation Internationale de Football Association, 14-cv-3879, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).