BRUSSELS: FIFA exco veteran Michel D’Hooghe has complained he has been treated “like a murderer” after coming under scrutiny for his conduct during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids
The FIFA executive committee member from Belgium confirmed in 2011 that he accepted a “small painting” from an adviser to Russia’s 2018 bid, though he later described it as a “poisonous gift” that was worthless.
Coincidentally, his son also later took a job as a doctor in Qatar but D’Hooge insists that it had nothing to do with the bidding race and was a “purely a medical decision without any involvement of myself”.
But, mud sticks and in this case, 68-year-old D’Hooghe, along with Spain’s Ángel María Villar Llona and Worawi Makudi from Thailand as well as the German World Cup winner, Franz Beckenbauer, now face formal disciplinary action following Michael Garcia’s 18-month inquiry into the controversial World Cup bidding process.
“I have asked for a quick conclusion because I am under great pressure,” he said. “After 45 years in football and 26 in the executive committee but this is the hardest period of my life. You are just considered like a murderer.”
“I am simply a man who has worked for years and years to improve medical issues at FIFA. I’m not so much upset as very, very sad.”
D’Hooghe added: “On November 19, I had been cleared at a meeting with the ethics committee in which all the ambiguities were resolved. My conduct in this case has been beyond reproach and will be proved in due course.
“I don’t know why they have published the names of people apparently under investigation and this is after I went back to give them more information.”
Also indicated as under scrutiny are Spanish federation president Angel Maria Villar, Thai FA president Worawi Makudi and former FIFA exco member Franz Beckenbauer.