Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah tried to influence an election for the FIFA Council in Asia, sport’s highest court has ruled.
Sheikh Ahmad, who gave up his own FIFA Council seat in 2017 after being implicated in a bribery probe, was alleged to have offered a female candidate inducements to withdraw from the April 2019 soccer election.
She alleged the sheikh told her in a luxury hotel meeting ahead of the vote that she had no future in soccer if she stayed in the election. She alleged she was offered other positions in international soccer.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the election was “subject to improper influence”, the court said on Monday.
The court’s statement did not identify the Kuwaiti sheikh.
The judges also decided the Asian Football Confederation failed to protect its own election from gender discrimination.
However, the court denied Mariyam Mohamed’s request to have the election annulled or re-run despite broadly agreeing with her arguments.
The inducements “were not effective” because Mohamed did not withdraw, the court said in a statement.
“In that respect, while the panel found the third-party interference established, it underlined that it did not, in the end, have an effect on the elections,” CAS said.
Mohamed, a soccer official from the Maldives, lost to her opponent from Bangladesh 31-15 in the poll of AFC member federations.
The winner, Mahfuza Akhter Kiron, got a four-year term representing Asia on the 37-member FIFA Council.
Each of world soccer’s six continental bodies are required to elect at least one woman to FIFA’s decision-making committee.
Since the quotas were introduced by FIFA, men have continued to be elected to their seats without any female opponents.
Mohamed filed a formal complaint to the AFC election commission after the poll in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Sheikh Ahmad’s intervention came two years after he was implicated in a US federal court of bribing Asian soccer officials to influence elections to positions in the AFC and FIFA.
He denied wrongdoing but that case soon forced him out of an election to retain his FIFA Council seat.
Since 2018, the sheikh has been self-suspended as a member of the International Olympic Committee.
He has been indicted by prosecutors in Geneva in a forgery case in Geneva which he said was politically motivated by rivalries in Kuwait.
Sheikh Ahmad continues to run the Olympic Council of Asia regional group.