Fifa vice president Ahmad was detained and questioned by French authorities on Thursday in the latest criminal investigation to hit the governing body of world soccer, a day before the start of the Women’s World Cup.
Ahmad is “being questioned by the French authorities in relation to allegations related to his mandate” as president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Fifa said in a statement.
“Fifa is unaware of the details surrounding this investigation and is therefore not in a position to make any comment on it specifically,” the governing body said. “Fifa is asking the French authorities for any information that might be relevant to investigations taking place within its ethics committee.”
African news outlet Jeune Afrique first reported that Ahmad, who is from Madagascar, had been detained as part of a corruption investigation.
Ahmad has been accused by former CAF secretary general Amr Fahmy of bribing heads of soccer associations and misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Fifa president Gianni Infantino vaguely touched on problems in CAF in an address to the continent’s soccer associations on Tuesday.
“I know there is a certain amount of turbulence,” Infantino said. “I would urge you at this difficult point to urge you to always keep your cool and keep the spirit of solidarity. […] Try to find solutions, not problems.”
Fifa has struggled to move on from the corruption crisis that erupted with officials being arrested in May 2015. Four years later ahead of his re-election in Paris on Wednesday, Infantino told members that now “nobody talks about scandals. Nobody talks about corruption”.
That message was repeated in a Fifa statement about Ahmad being questioned in the French investigation.
“Fifa is fully committed to eradicating all forms of wrongdoing at any level in football,” the governing body said. “Anyone found to have committed illicit or illegal acts has no place in football.
“Fifa is now clean from the scandals that tarnished its reputation.”
Since Infantino was elected Fifa president in 2016, four continental soccer organisations each lost elected Fifa Council members amid allegations of corruption or financial misjudgments.
Fifa senior vice president David Chung of Papua New Guinea was banned for 6½ years, Kwesi Nyantakyi of Ghana was banned for life, Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait withdrew his re-election candidacy when implicated in bribing voters, and Reinhard Grindel of Germany resigned.