World / Africa & Diaspora
Tuesday, 02 May 2017 21:43 EAT
Influential Fifa Council member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah of Kuwait has resigned from his various positions in football after allegations of financial impropriety emerged, according to multiple media sources.
Sheikh Ahmad ,who is also the head of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), president of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) – has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Just days ago documents submitted in a US district court referenced an unnamed Kuwaiti OCA official as having played a role in a bribery case featuring Richard Lai, a member of the audit and compliance committee at Fifa, football’s global governing body.
Football loving Africa will definitely take keen interest in these disturbing development, given the fact that the Confederation of African Football (Caf), with 54 members, is the biggest continental confederation affiliated to Fifa. What with the increased slots for Africa from, 5 to 9, at the 2026 Fifa World Cup, which Caf member Morocco bids to host.
Lai, president of the Guam Football Association, was last week been banned by Fifa from all football activities for 90 days. The ban was issued after Lai pleaded guilty in a US federal court to charges of wire fraud conspiracy. US prosecutors claimed that he had received nearly $1m (€900,000) in bribes.
"With regards to alleged illegal payments to Richard Lai, I can only refer to my previous statement and vigorously deny any wrongdoing," Sheikh Ahmad said in a statement. "I intend to work with all relevant authorities to disprove these for me totally surprising allegations.
"However, I do not want these allegations to create divisions or distract attention from the upcoming AFC and Fifa Congresses. Therefore, after careful consideration, I have decided it is in the best interests of Fifa and the AFC (Asian Football Confederation), for me to withdraw my candidacy for the Fifa Council and resign from my current football positions."