FIFA is facing embarrassment at the launch of the Women’s World Cup in Paris after one of the governing body’s vice-presidents was detained by detectives investigating corruption.
Ahmad Ahmad, the Confederation of African Football president, was held in the French capital just a day after Fifa president Gianni Infantino told delegates at his re-election that he had cleaned up the organisation.
“Nobody talks about scandals. Nobody talks about corruption,” said Infantino.
However, the following morning, as officials attended the Fifa Women’s Football Convention ahead of tonight’s curtain-raiser, officers swooped on Ahmad’s hotel.
Allegations against the 59-year-old are said to include him receiving a £700 000 payment to tear up an existing Caf contract with another company.
Fifa confirmed the arrest, but said it was “unaware of the details surrounding this investigation and is therefore not in a position to make any comment on it specifically”.
“Fifa is asking the French authorities for any information that might be relevant to investigations taking place within its ethics committee,” a statement said.
“As a matter of due process, everyone has the right to the presumption of innocence, but as the Fifa president reiterated yesterday (Wednesday), Fifa is fully committed to eradicating all forms of wrongdoing at any level in football. Anyone found to have committed illicit or illegal acts has no place in football.”
Fifa is still hopeful of selling around a million tickets for the Women’s World Cup, which kicks off today.
A total prize pot of £23.4 million will be shared out for the women’s tournament, an increase of double on that which was on offer in 2015.
However, Infantino recognised Fifa had previously been wrong to sell the tournament “on top” to rights-holders bidding for the men’s tournament, which, in 2018, had a total prize pot of £312m.
Infantino said the prize money should be more proportionate with the viewing figures that the tournaments get, which, he said, would see the women getting around a quarter of the pot handed out to the men. – The Telegraph