Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has resigned from all of his roles within football after the key sporting powerbroker appeared to be identified in a United States Department of Justice (DoJ) document in connection with their corruption investigation.
The Kuwaiti was a member of the FIFA Council, the FIFA Reform Committee and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Committee but said in a statement today that it was in the “best interests” of the two organisations if he stepped down.
He strongly denies any wrongdoing.
Sheikh Ahmad, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), has also withdrawn his candidacy for re-election to FIFA’s ruling Council.
The announcement comes less than two weeks before world football’s governing body holds its annual Congress in the Bahrain capital of Manama on May 11.
The AFC are due to stage their Congress on May 8, where the organisation will hold FIFA Council elections.
“With regards to alleged illegal payments to Richard Lai, I can only refer to my previous statement and vigorously deny any wrongdoing,” read a statement by Sheikh Ahmad.
“I intend to work with all relevant authorities to disprove these for me totally surprising allegations.
“However, I do not want these allegations to create divisions or distract attention from the upcoming AFC and FIFA Congresses.
“Therefore, after careful consideration, I have decided it is in the best interests of FIFA and the AFC, for me to withdraw my candidacy for the FIFA Council and resign from my current football positions.
“I have been honoured to serve on the FIFA Council, FIFA Reform Committee and AFC for the last two years and I will continue to support the family of football once these allegations have been disproved.”
In an OCA statement, Sheikh Ahmad “strongly denied” any wrongdoing after the DoJ seemingly identified him as “co-conspirator number two” in the case involving Guam’s Lai, who pleaded guilty to charges of receiving nearly $1 million (£773,000/€915,000) in bribes.