KEIR RADNEDGE COMMENTARY: A wider issue for sport, arising from the fall-out between Kuwait and the Olympic Council of Asia, is the inherent risk taken by a newly-elected international federation president in shifting the organisation’s headquarters to his own back yard.
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah is confronting the uncomfortable consequences in his native Kuwait with the OCA to some extent a victim of international sports politics in which he plays a high-profile role.
Similarly, many Asian football federations and confederation staff are unhappy with the manner in Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has echoed his mentor by establishing an unofficial AFC headquarters locally in Manama.
The ‘real’ AFC headquarters remain, under-occupied, in Kuala Lumpur.
Indeed, the close alignment of Sheikh Salman and his Bahrain home may have counted against him in the FIFA presidential election in February.
The run-up to the ballot for the new head of world football was marked by high-profile criticism of Sheikh Salman over his close ties with a regime noted for its intolerance – to say the least – of democratic protest and human rights.
He could not alter the fact of the land of his birth but he could have avoided making his own presidency synonymous with Bahrain’s poor international image.
Similarly, the Swiss public and political classes were delighted to have fellow citizen Sepp Blatter running the FIFA show for 18 years in Zurich. They were not so happy when his regime was demonstrated to have been harbouring a bunch of alleged money-launderers.
One of those self-confessed criminals, Chuck Blazer, may long regret the decision taken by himself and former CONCACAF president Jack Warner to shift the central and north American confederation’s head office from Guatemala City to Trump Tower on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
That decision rebounded on both men by guaranteeing that all the shady financial transactions revealed by the FIFAGate criminal investigation would go through the United States financial system – and ultimately trap them.
Earlier this month the Swiss parliament approved a new law, nicknamed ‘Lex FIFA’. This is intended to provide federal authorities with the right of greater legal insight into the financial activities of the international federation officials who fly in and out of the country.
With more than 60 international federations safely tucked away in Switzerland, it remains to be seen whether this is anything more than mere anti-Blatter, knee-jerk politics.