BANGKOK – Thailand’s Worawi Makudi has threatened to take legal action against anyone who brings up past allegations of corruption against him during the election campaign for the Presidency of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
He is the only one among the four candidates from East Asia standing to replace the disgraced Mohamed Bin Hammam, forced to step down after was suspended and subsequently banned from all football activities by world governing body FIFA for bribery and corruption.
But Makudi, a member of FIFA’s ruling Executive Committee since 1997, has been linked to his own series of scandals.
The best known was when Lord Triesman, the former England Football Association chairman and leader of England’s bid for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, had accused him of demanding the television rights for a proposed friendly between England and Thailand in return for his vote.
Makudi launched legal action following but his claim for libel and slander was struck out by a court in London last month because Triesman had made his claims under Parliamentary privilege.
Other controversies which Makudi has been linked too have included accusations that funds meant for the Thai Football Association to build facilities were instead spent on building assets on land he owned in Bangkok and allegations made by a South Korean company in connection with the early cancellation of a multi-million-dollar deal for broadcast rights to Thai football.
But he claimed that he had been cleared on every occasion and warned his three opponents for the President’s role – United Arab Emirates football chief Yousuf Al Serkal, his Bahrain equivalent Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Saudi Arabian official Hafez El Medlej – not to try to use the allegations against him.
“I’ve cleared my name so I’m not afraid,” Makudi told news agency AFP.
“But if people try to bring cases back, I’ll respond very strongly, with legal action.”
The election is due to be held on May 2 in Kuala Lumpur and Makudi already has the unanimous support of countries in Southeast Asia, who make up 12 of the AFC’s 46 members.
“I have a lot of respect for every candidate… I can’t underestimate anybody in this race,” he said. – By Duncan Mackay