Swim body monitoring VP’s alleged role in FIFA bribery case
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — World swimming body FINA has pledged to “take all measures deemed necessary” after its vice president was implicated in a FIFA bribery case in an American court.
“FINA is aware of the media reports concerning the allegations against its first vice president, Husain al-Musallam,” the governing body said Wednesday in a statement to The Associated Press.
Still, the FINA ethics panel is not formally studying the case of the Kuwaiti official, whose senior vice presidency is due for renewal in July.
Al-Musallam could be identified in a Department of Justice document and Brooklyn federal court transcript last week in the guilty plea of a FIFA audit committee member.
The official, Richard Lai from Guam, said in court he was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes through the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA). This was to help advance the interests of a Kuwaiti “faction” and recruit other Asian soccer leaders he understood would be offered bribes, he said.
The case documents described “Co-conspirator 3” as a “high-ranking” official at the Kuwait-based OCA and an official with Kuwait’s soccer federation. Al-Musallam has been OCA director general since 2005 and a vice chairman for international relations with the Kuwait soccer body.
“Even though this case is not directly related to FINA, we will of course monitor the situation and take all measures deemed necessary following the conclusion of the various investigations,” the swimming body said.
The IOC and FIFA ethics panels also have jurisdiction over Al-Musallam’s case. He is a member of the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity commission, which has a budget of more than $480 million to distribute among national Olympic bodies and teams in the four-year period leading to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
That panel is chaired by Al-Musallam’s long-time boss, Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait, the OCA president who is “co-conspirator 2” in the American legal documents.
Sheikh Ahmad has denied all wrongdoing, though he resigned from the FIFA Council on Saturday. He also withdrew his candidacy to retain his seat in an election of Asian soccer leaders scheduled next Monday in Manama, Bahrain.
The IOC said in a statement Saturday that the sheikh informed the IOC and FIFA ethics panels of the allegations.
Sheikh Ahmad has been an IOC member for 25 years and has led the Asian Olympic body, which was created by his father, since 1991.
Since being elected president of the global group of national Olympic committees, known as ANOC, in 2012, Sheikh Ahmad has gained a reputation as the most important powerbroker in Olympic elections and hosting votes, with Al-Musallam as his closest aide.