Richard Lai a former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) official, Fifa committee member and President of the Guam Football Association has been banned from all football activity for life by Fifa.
His case implicates Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, who was not explicitly named by the Department of Justice. However, the court papers referred to him as the source of the bribes paid to Lai in return for support in AFC and FIFA elections.
Ever since cases of bribes, bungs and corruption started breaking in reference to FIFA, it has been widely known that Sep Blatter decided to make sure every country had a vote regardless of size to make sure they could be bribed to sway decisions in FIFA elections. The Qatar world cup decision being the pinnacle of this evidence.
As it stands Lai is has pleaded guilty to two charges of wire fraud transfer. He has transferred money from Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah (allegedly) under the pretence the money would be used to pay for a coach. Lai has stated he never used this money for a coach and instead kept it for himself. He accepted a total of £773,000 in April.
Reports are that Lai is cooperating with the investigation and is passing on details of corruption and bribery in other parts of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation). We are expecting more news like this to be revealed in the future as anyone who has followed Asian football for a while will have at some point suspected some bribery has taken place.
Ironically he was taking these bribes at a time when the Guam national team were achieving the best results in their history. They had managed to qualify for the final qualifying rounds of the Asian Cup, and with how they were performing at that time they were likely qualifiers for what I believe would have been the first time (please correct me if I am wrong.)
Unfortunately, the Guam national team’s happiness turned to disappointment when the football association released a statement saying that Guam, unfortunately, had to withdraw from the competition due to lack of finances. They cited the long distance of travel to play their opponents as the reason – having been drawn to play all ties against West Asian sides.
With Lai in charge of Guam football around this period it is clear evidence again that football has no moral compass, with Lai happy to bask in the limelight throughout the short successful period Guam enjoyed, while at same time skimming money from the association that eventually had the knock-on effect of denying their footballers the chance to play on the biggest football stage in Asia.