Fifa steps up Makudi land deals case

Fifa stepped up its investigation into executive committee member Worawi Makudi on Wednesday, demanding more legal documents to answer allegations that $860 000 of development funds were spent building football projects on land he owns in Thailand.

Fifa said it will launch a formal case if Makudi fails to show by December 1 that he donated the land in question to the Football Association of Thailand, of which he is president.

“Should Fifa not receive the requested legal confirmation from Mr Makudi by that date then the matter would be referred to the ethics committee,” the governing body said in a statement.

Fifa was apparently unconvinced “that this donation is effective,” despite Makudi twice providing copies of land deeds and legal papers since the allegations of a conflict of interest were made by a Swiss business newspaper.

Makudi’s legal troubles have emerged as Fifa President Sepp Blatter launches a zero tolerance drive against corruption after a series of bribery and vote-rigging allegations involving world football leaders.

The 59-year-old Makudi has been a member of Fifa’s ruling executive panel for 14 years and is a close ally of Mohamed bin Hammam, the Qatari president of Asian football who is appealing a life ban for bribery imposed by the ethics committee.

Worawi could face his own probe if Fifa believes he might have broken a rule relating to “private or personal interests include gaining any possible advantage for himself, his family, relatives, friends and acquaintances”.

The case centres on a training field and FAT headquarters built in the Nong Chok district in Bangkok with funds from Fifa’s Goal project.

Thailand received the maximum $400 000 in funding each time, in 2004 and 2007 and also used $60 000 of its annual Fifa grant toward the artificial field.

Makudi denies wrongdoing and told Thai media in September he was “disappointed” that Fifa did not accept his initial set of documents.

“Their failure to do so has tainted my reputation,” Makudi said then.

The Goal project allocates millions of dollars each year to fund football in less-developed football nations. It was created by Blatter in 1999 and the committee allocating funds was chaired by bin Hammam until his ban.—Sapa-AP

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