April 30 (Reuters) - Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, the FIFA Council member who also runs the Olympic Council of Asia, said on Sunday he was resigning all his posts in football after being drawn into the latest bribery scandal to hit the game’s governing body.
The Kuwaiti issued a statement on Saturday “strongly” denying that he was one of the Asian Football Confederation officials described in U.S. Court documents as allegedly bribing a member of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, Richard Lai.
Lai, also president of the Guam Football Association (GFA), pleaded guilty on Thursday to wire fraud conspiracy charges before U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn, according to U.S. prosecutors, who said he had taken close to $1 million in bribes.
“With regards to alleged illegal payments to Richard Lai, I can only refer to my previous statement and vigorously deny any wrongdoing,” Sheikh Ahmad said in a statement released by the OCA on Sunday.
”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 (Asian Football Confederation), for me to withdraw my candidacy for the FIFA Council and resign from my current football positions.”
The FIFA Council replaced the largely discredited Executive Committee as FIFA’s decision-making body under reforms instituted in the wake of the 2015 corruption scandal.
The AFC will elect four members, one a woman, to the FIFA Council at a congress in Bahrain in May. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Pritha Sarkar)