If ever there was a damning example that football officials are not serious about corruption within their ranks then please direct your attention to the Asian Football Confederation.
The confederation is headed by Sheikh Salman Al-Khalifa of Bahrain who failed in a bid to win the FIFA presidency in February. One month later and the AFC President has agreed to hire Dato’ Alex Soosay as a consultant for the organization.
Soosay, former General-Secretary of the AFC and one of the most senior figures in Asian football, was last in the news in 2015 when he suddenly resigned from that role after allegations he tried to conceal evidence from an investigation into corruption at the… wait for it… Asian Football Confederation.
In April, the Malay Mail said it had obtained a video of an AFC official telling a FIFA investigator that Mr. Soosay had asked him to hide or tamper with documents that could potentially incriminate him in a 2012 investigation of the AFC under former president Mohamed bin Hammam.
The AFC suspended Mr. Soosay on May 13 after it said it had verified the authenticity of the video passed to the media. Mr. Soosay, a former soccer player from Malaysia, became the AFC’s general secretary in 2009.
That episode was the result of work by James Dorsey, an academic who publishes The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.
Mr. Soosay officially resigned in June 2015, two months after this blog disclosed a statement by then AFC Financial Director Bryan Kuan Wee Hoong that was video-taped and taken down in writing by FIFA security officer Michael John Pride. In the statement, Mr. Kuan asserted that Mr. Soosay had asked him to tamper with or hide documents related to enquiries by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) and FIFA into management of the group by Mr. Hammam.
The audit served as the basis for FIFA’s banning for life from all professional soccer-related activity of Mr. Bin Hammam, who also was a member of the world body’s executive committee. The AFC announced that it was investigating the matter which it described as FIFA rather than AFC-related following the disclosure in this blog but never reported the outcome of its inquiry. The AFC’s statement last June on Mr. Soosay’s departure made no mention of the allegations or the group’s investigation.
Still, that was then, right?
Soosay, who has denied the allegations, is back at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur. The AFC thinks he is awesome claiming in a statement: “Asian football is benefiting tremendously from Dato’ Alex Soosay’s unrivalled expertise and experience of the world game in his role as a consultant to the Asian Football Confederation.”