A top Olympic official about to join FIFA’s executive has questioned the timing of what he called a “Hollywood-style” operation to detain FIFA members in a corruption raid.
Sheikh Ahmad al Fahad al Sabah of Kuwait said no one could tolerate corruption but that it was suspicious that the arrests came two days before an election in which FIFA president Sepp Blatter is standing for a new term.
“I think it was Hollywood-style,” Sheikh Ahmad told AFP in an interview of the raid by Swiss police acting on a warrant issued by US authorities.
“Many people are asking questions about these events but no one has said it because they are scared of the FBI,” said the sheikh who was in the Baur au Lac hotel on Wednesday morning when seven FIFA officials, including two vice presidents, were detained.
Now facing extradition to the United States, the seven are among 14 people accused by US authorities of involvement in $150 million of bribes.
“Why did they want to do it before the congress?” said the Sheikh, head of the Olympic Council of Asia and who is due to join the FIFA executive from Saturday.
“They could have done it six weeks before.”
“If England and America had secured the 2018 and 2022 World Cups would this procedure have been the same?” he added.
England was a candidate for the 2018 World Cup that FIFA awarded to Russia. The United States was a losing candidate for the 2022 competition to be held in Qatar.
The FIFA awards are now being investigated by Swiss police who raided the FIFA headquarters on Wednesday.
“These questions need to be raised and we have the right to hear an explanation. Otherwise it is Hollywood-style and we can question whether it was right or wrong,” said Sheikh Ahmad who backed Blatter to win Friday’s FIFA vote and secure a fifth four-year term.
He said no one within FIFA doubted that Blatter would win. “It is just a question will it be the first or second round.”
The sheikh said he would raise the questions about the police operation at the FIFA congress and with US officials.
Asia’s top sports official said FIFA had to resist outside interference in its efforts to halt corruption and held up the Asian Football Confederation’s campaign to clean up its operation.
“We will maintain the FIFA agenda, we will hold the election, we will maintain our movement. This story has started big but it will finish small,” said the sheikh.
“FIFA will survive,” he declared. – Agence France-Presse