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Mariyam Mohamed, Candidate in Tainted Asian Football Election, Calls for Re-run

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The candidate, Mariyam Mohamed, who lost after facing gender bias and improper influence said the Asian Football Confederation should re-run its tainted election.

The candidate for FIFA's top decision-making body who lost after facing gender bias and improper influence said on Tuesday the Asian Football Confederation should re-run its tainted election. Mariyam Mohamed said the Court of Arbitration for Sports verdict Monday — after she alleged misconduct by the AFC and Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah — undermined the winning candidates at Asian soccer elections in 2019.

The court found the allegations of discrimination against women and inducements offered to be proven in Mohamed's appeals but let the election results stand.

The currently elected officials at the AFC and FIFA have no legitimacy and there should be new elections as soon as possible, she said in a statement to the Associated Press.

The AFC said on Tuesday it would review the CAS awards to understand what appropriate action(s) can be taken. The AFC notes that it is always determined to maintain the highest possible standards in these important areas.

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Mohamed filed formal complaints to the AFC in April 2019 saying pressure put on her by its officials and Sheikh Ahmad left her feeling unsafe (and) threatened. She alleged the Kuwaiti sheikh offered her inducements to withdraw from a vote to join the FIFA Council as Asias female delegate. In 2017, U.S. federal authorities implicated him in buying influence in soccer elections. He denied wrongdoing but was forced out of his own FIFA Council seat.

She said Sheikh Ahmad told her at a luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur she would have no future in soccer if she stood against his favored candidate. Mohamed lost to her opponent from Bangladesh 31-15 in a poll of AFC member federations.

All 15 candidates for AFC positions on a list circulated before the vote, and reportedly backed by the Olympic Council of Asia which Sheikh Ahmad leads, ended up winning. The OCA declined to comment after the elections.

Mohamed filed two appeals at CAS in the Olympic home city of Lausanne, Switzerland.

The court said its judges agreed with both, finding fault with the AFC election committees refusal to investigate Mohamed's complaint of discrimination, and the disciplinary committees failure to do a timely investigation of improper third-party influence.

The CAS panel found denial of justice, serious corruption and discrimination, Mohamed said, hailing the verdict a fabulous result.

However, it was a partial win for the Maldives soccer official as the three judges did not annul the vote or order new AFC elections.

The court decided the proven offer of inducements had no effect because Mohamed did not withdraw her candidacy.

The judges also said the AFCs electoral and disciplinary committees had no authority to annul or re-run polls, nor amend the soccer body's legal statutes.

The AFC legal director in 2019, Benot Pasquier, declined comment on the case on Tuesday to the AP. He cited having left the soccer body and now being on the CAS list of approved arbitrators.

The court has not yet published the full written verdict of its judging panel chaired by John Boultbee, an Australian barrister and former long-time official at rowing's governing body.

first published:January 26, 2021, 21:12 IST
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