Exclusive - Under-fire FIFA Ex-Co Member Makudi Denies Grant Use Allegations

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Makudi claims he has responded to FIFA's letter. But FIFA told INSIDER today that they haven't received his reply (Getty)
(WFI) Thailand's FIFA Executive Committee member Worawi Makudi tells INSIDER he is not fearing any ethics committee probe amid allegations that GOAL program development grants were spent on building facilities on land that he owned.

Laughing off claims that Thailand's national football training centre was built with money from FIFA's GOAL programme on his land, he sounded astonished that the scandal had erupted.

"I don't know why this is an issue. I already told them I have done everything according to the official procedures and regulations that FIFA imposed," Makudi told INSIDER.

"How can I have done any wrongdoing."

The president of the Thai FA added: "Everything has to be properly and officially prepared according to what they want. They will not just hand over the money and say 'you take it and do whatever you like'."

"It is long, long ago and so many things have been done after that," Makudi said, apparently referring to developments at the Thai FA in the years since it was awarded two GOAL project grants totalling $860,000 in 2004 and 2007.

FIFA's website shows that in September 2004, the GOAL Bureau approved construction of an international size artificial field at the technical centre in Nongiok, near Bangkok. It was inaugurated by FIFA president Sepp Blatter in September 2009. Total cost was $460,000.

In 2007, the GOAL Bureau awarded a $400,000 grant to build a new three-storey headquarters for the federation adjacent to the artificial pitch.

The allegations that FIFA cash was spent on building facilities on land he owned were first reported by Australian journalist Jesse Fink in July.

The 59-year-old, who has been a FIFA Ex-Co member since 1997, maintains that the land was signed over to the Thai FA.

But Fink has written on his blog site Jessefink.com.au "Worawi has made many public statements that the land has been donated and signed over to Thai FA but the land documents do not bear this out."

FIFA is now investigating the allegations that he has breached conflict of interest rules and threatened an ethics investigation if there is any evidence of wrongdoing.

"We can confirm that FIFA is currently seeking clarification with Mr Makudi on the issue of the FIFA Goal projects in Thailand," FIFA said in a statement released to INSIDER.

"FIFA has sent a letter to Mr Makudi and is following up on this matter."

The statement added: "Should there be any evidence of any potential breach of the Code of Ethics, then the matter would be referred to the Ethics Committee in compliance with article 16 of the Code of Ethics.

"However, at the time of writing, no ethics proceedings or ethics investigation has been opened against Mr Makudi.

"We cannot speculate at this stage if any of the rules and regulations regarding the awarding of a GOAL project have been breached."

Makudi, who was re-elected as Thai FA president in June for a third term, said he has responded to FIFA's letter.

But FIFA disputed the claim, and told INSIDER: "To the best of our knowledge, FIFA has not received any letter from Worawi Makudi in reply to FIFA’s letters regarding the GOAL projects in Thailand."

Makudi was recently engulfed in the bribery scandal that brought down Asian football boss Mohamed Bin Hammam. Bin Hammam was banned from football for life in July but is appealing the sanction.

Makudi was quizzed by FIFA investigators after accompanying the Qatari to a meeting in Trinidad on May 10 where cash bungs of $40,000 were allegedly paid to Caribbean Football Union members. Makudi insisted he did not see the money changing hands.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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