PANAJI, Sept 26 – World football body Fifa has banned a senior Qatari official from running in elections for a seat on its new-look council over an investigation. Scandal-plagued Fifa’s ethics committee last month recommended a two-and-a-half-year ban from the game for Saoud Al-Mohannadi, vice-president of the Qatar Football Association, for refusing to cooperate with an inquiry.
Fifa has not revealed the subject of the inquiry, but it is not connected with the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar will host. Mohannadi denies any wrongdoing and had been cleared to stand in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) elections in Goa, India, on Tuesday before the AFC announced that he’d been ruled out.
“Fifa has advised the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that, based on the report of the Investigatory Chamber of the Fifa Ethics Committee, it has decided Mr Saoud A. Aziz Al-Mohannadi (Qatar) is not eligible to stand in the elections for the Fifa Council,” the AFC said in a statement late Sunday.
Six candidates from Asia, including China and North Korea, will vie at the AFC extraordinary congress in Goa for three seats on Fifa’s council, which was set up under anti-corruption reforms earlier this year. Fifa’s all-powerful executive committee, which had become the epicentre of corruption at the organisation, was rebranded as a FIFA council at the body’s congress in Mexico earlier this year.
It was created to operate in a similar way to a company’s board of directors as part of plans to make the organisation more transparent, including in the awarding of host countries for World Cups, following a string of corruption scandals. Three male candidates – Zhang Jian of China, Iran’s Ali Kafashian Naeni and Zainudin Nordin of Singapore – will compete for two of the seats in Tuesday’s vote, which will be attended by Fifa President Gianni Infantino.
Three women are contesting the third slot under Fifa’s reforms which state that each confederation must have a minimum of one female representative on the council. Former Australian footballer Moya Dodd is favourite to pip Mahfuza Ahkter of Bangladesh and North Korea’s Han Un-Gyong to be the AFC female representative.
Infantino is undertaking a clean-up of FIFA after a series of corruption scandals and bribery allegations plunged the body into crisis. Former president Sepp Blatter is serving a six-year ban from football over ethics violations while former secretary-general Jerome Valcke was banned for 10 years over misconduct regarding television deals and 2014 World Cup ticket sales. Allegations of vote-buying have also dogged the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 edition to Qatar. — AFP