(Reuters) - The highest court in sport has ruled that a third party improperly tried to influence the Asian Football Confederation's election of a female delegate to the FIFA Council in 2019 by trying to persuade one of the candidates not to run.
Mariyam Mohamed of the Maldives, who lost the election to Bangladeshi incumbent Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, last year launched two appeals against the election result at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The ruling partially upheld her complaints, holding that the election had been subject to "third-party interference" and that the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) failed to protect its election from gender discrimination.
It also ruled that the AFC's Electoral Committee was wrong to refuse to investigate Mohamed's complaint and that the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Committee's decision not to investigate her claims in a timely manner "resulted in a denial of justice".
The ruling only partially upheld Mohamed's appeals, however, as it did not order the annulment of the results and the re-running of the election.
The panel of judges made this decision because the two AFC committees did not have the "competence" to order the elections be run again, the ruling said.
The ruling also noted that "the attempts to influence the elections through inducements were not effective, in that Mariyam Mohamed did not withdraw her candidature" and therefore the election was not ultimately impacted.
The AFC said in a statement that it "noted" Monday's media release announcing the judgement and would review the full award once it was made available.
"The AFC notes that it is always determined to maintain the highest possible standards in these important areas," it said.
"We will now review the CAS awards to understand what appropriate action(s) can be taken."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)