Another Day, Another FIFA Crook

One of the many unanswered questions arising from that now-infamous two day Grab-for-the Cash event hosted by Jack Warner in Port of Spain last May for his pal Mohammad bin Hammam is the role played by a guy from Thailand named Worawi Makudi.

Not particularly well known outside of FIFA circles, Makudi has been a member of FIFA's Executive Committee since 1997. This fact was little noted around the world until former FA Chairman Lord Triesman told a committee in Parliament that Makudi had offered to sell his vote for the England bid in return for the TV rights to an England-Thailand match.

Coming on the heels of the revelation a few months earlier that Qatar’s Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence, which is wholly funded by the Royal Family and thus is considered a private enterprise beyond FIFA's purview, had suddenly - inexplicably even - decided to build a massive youth academy in Thailand, many of your more cynical observers detected more than just a whiff of quid pro quo in regards to Makudi's World Cup vote.

(Shortly thereafter, Makudi's wife showed up driving a new top of the line Mercedes which was reportedly a gift from - well, I'll let you guess.)

Not surprisingly, Makudi is a longtime friend and ally of Mohammad bin Hammam. However, what many people are finding curious is that back in May, at the exact same time that Triesman was making his presentation in London, Makudi announced to everyone that he was leaving for a visit to Qatar.

Some suggested that he needed to take a break from the uproar over the fact that the wildly unpopular Makudi, who is seen as a crook and a thief by those who know him best, abruptly cancelled the scheduled Thai FA elections, in which it had become apparent he would be badly beaten.

He then cut off the electricity in the building where the election was to be held and hopped his flight to Qatar, but he was apparently only there long enough to swich his bags onto MBH's Gulfstream for the trip to Port of Spain.

Why he went along, what he did while he was there, who he spoke to, what he saw, all are questions that he has never answered except to assure everyone that he of course didn't see any bags of money being shoved into envelopes or handed to CFU delegates.

Of that, he is quite positive.

Then, in July, the Thai sporting paper Hot Score published photos of World Cup tickets which had been issued to Makudi - including one which had his name printed on it - which were purchased on the open market in South Africa.

None of which would in and of itself constitute much more than circumstantial evidence of untoward doings, and FIFA is so awash with that kind of thing these days that they might as well rename their HQ "SS No Actual Proof" and shove off for a Caribbean cruise.

But something else has recently come to light that has actually piqued the curiosity of FIFA's Ethics Committee and Makudi may suddenly be in pretty hot water.

It seems that back in 2004, FIFA's GOAL Bureau - under the direction of chairman Mohammad bin Hammam - gave the Thai federation $460,000 to build an international size artificial field near Bangkok and then in 2007 handed them and additional $400,000 to build a shiny new three story headquarters adjacent to the new pitch.

At the time, much was made of the fact that the land upon which these splendid new facilities was built belonged to none other than Worawi Makudi, who announced that he had graciously agreed to "donate" it for the benefit of one and all, and those who were grumbling about FIFA spending $860,000 to improve land owned by an ExCo member should just shut up.

The fact that he still owned all the surrounding land, whose value had been increased substantially by all of the construction, was apparently just a happy coincidence.

Yet suddenly, last week, an "anonymous source" forwarded a file to FIFA's Ethics Committee which contains hard and undeniable evidence that, in fact, Makudi still owns all of the aforementioned land, or at least did as recently as June of this year, the date when the copies were made.

This generated enough interest in Zurich that they've asked for some answers and told Makudi that,

"Should there be any evidence of any potential breach of the Code of Ethics, then the matter would be referred to the Ethics Committee in compliance with article 16 of the Code of Ethics.

"However, at the time of writing, no ethics proceedings or ethics investigation has been opened against Mr Makudi."

The Thai responded, telling World Football Insider:

"I don't know why this is an issue. I already told them I have done everything according to the official procedures and regulations that FIFA imposed"

"How can I have done any wrongdoing."

This is of course straight out of the Jack Warner school of responding to charges of malfeasance: "I steadfastly have declared my innocence and the matter is closed".

Unfortunately for Makudi, FIFA doesn't see it quite the same way:

"To the best of our knowledge, FIFA has not received any letter from Worawi Makudi in reply to FIFA’s letters regarding the GOAL projects in Thailand."

Makudi's response to all of this is to announce that he's suing.

He says he's suing Triesman, even though he made his claims under parliamentary protection which precludes a lawsuit.

He says he's suing Hot Score, even though the publisher has a handful of the tickets in his possession along with affidavits from the purchasers.

He says he's suing over the land allegations, although it's hard to see how he can sue either an anonymous German guy or FIFA's Secretariat.

If you're keeping score at home, the tally of FIFA ExCo members who are provably in the bag of the highest bidder but whose vote to confirm Qatar and Russia as World Cup venues will nevertheless stand no matter what is a solid 12.

No latter day Diogenes needs to waste a single minute searching for the One Honest Man in FIFA's hierarchy.

There isn't one.