KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Worawi Makudi is the latest contender to throw his hat into the ring for presidency of the Asian Football Confederation.
Makudi, who once tried and failed to sue Lord David Triesman over allegations concerning England’s doomed 2018 World Cup bid, has been a member of the FIFA executive committee since 1997 – one year before Sepp Blatter took over as president.
Now he has been promised unanimous support in the AFC election by the 11 members of the ASEAN Football Federation (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam) plus co-opted Australia.
A specially-convened AFF meeting closed with an unequivocal statement of support from president Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, who was head of the AFC before controversial and now-banned Mohamed Bin Hammam.
The vote of confidence will raise discussion beyond Asian football since south-east Asia is considered, worldwide, to be the heart of the criminal network targeting world sport in both matchfixing and doping spheres.
He said: “We examined our unity and solidarity and have decided to be united in choosing a leader for Asia. I am sure Dato’ Worawi Makudi will do everything he can to further the needs of the AFC and their member associations.”
Makudi, in a statement of his own, said: “I am extremely honoured to be proposed and nominated by the ASEAN football family to contest for the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation. I will do my upmost to serve the ASEAN family Members.
“My main target as the AFC president would be to bring everybody together and to unite the Asian Football Confederation.”
This may be easier said than done considering that Makudi was considered a close ally of disgraced and ousted president Mohamed Bin Hammam.
Nominations for the May 2 AFC election close on Sunday.
Last week Kuwait’s Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Ahmed Al Sabah, an IOC member who is chairman of the Olympic Council of Asia, said his country would support Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa.
Rivals are expected to include AFC vice-president Yousuf Al Serkal from the UAE as well as Saudi Arabia’s Hafez Al Medlej who is president of the AFC marketing committee along with acting AFC president Zhang Jilong from China.
Zhang Jilong will be particularly disappointed by the ASEAN decision because he hoped no other opposition would emerge from ‘his end’ of Asia and that the Gulf vote would split between its own candidates.
Makudi has had a controversial tenure in charge of Thai football.
Most notably he flew to Port of Spain with Bin Hammam to attend a FIFA presidential conference attended by with members of the Caribbean Football Union.
Within days Qatari Bin Hammam was hit with bribery allegations (which he has always denied) over the offering of $40,000 in cash to each of the CFU delegations for expenses. Makudi has always insisted he knew nothing about the cash.
Later in 2011, he was cleared by FIFA over accusations concerning the use of development grants and has had to rebuff criticisms of his running of the domestic game from a Thai parliamentary committee.
Makudi failed earlier this month in a London libel action against Lord David Triesman, former chairman of both the Football Association and England’s doomed bid to win host rights to the 2018 World Cup.
Triesman had told a parliamentary committee that Makudi had asked for TV rights for himself for a vote-encouraging friendly match between Thailand and England.
Makudi’s action was struck down by Mr Justice Tugendhat because the comments had been made under parliamentary privilege.
** The AFF has voted unanimous support for Australia’s Moya Dodd for the role of representative of women’s football on the FIFA exco. She faces opposition, in an election at FIFA Congress in May, from New Zealand’s Paula Kearns, Sonia Bien-Aime of Turks and Caicos as well as current, co-opted exco member Lydia Nsekera (Burundi).
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