Many soccer fans of a certain age will have remembered Sheikh Ahmad
's father. Only those who have followed soccer politics in recent years will know Sheikh Ahmad himself. Sheikh
was president of the Kuwaiti Football Association in 1982 when he was at the center of one of the most bizarre scenes in the history of the World Cup.
Kuwait was already
trailing France, 3-1, and headed for defeat when Alain Giresse
scored to make the score 4-1. But the Kuwaitis complained they heard a referee's whistle in the stands and had stopped playing
because of it. Sheikh Fahad, brother of Kuwait's ruling emir, ran on the field to protest and threatened Soviet referee Miroslav Stupar
his team would walk off the field if the goal was not
disallowed. Sure enough, Stupar disallowed the goal and Sheikh Fahad walked back into his VIP box.
France went on to score again -- this time the goal was allowed -- and it won, 4-1.
Eight years later, France traveled to Kuwait to play France in a friendly, and Sheikh Fahad apologized to Michal Platini
, the French captain in 1982 and French head coach in 1990, for what he
did. Months later, Sheikh Fahad was killed defending the Kuwaiti royal palace in the Kuwaiti invasion.
The first time soccer fans would have heard of his son, Skeikh Ahmad, was
coincidentally in connection with Platini. When Sepp Blatter resigned as FIFA president in 2015, Platini and Sheikh Fahad were those most often mentioned as favorites to replace Blatter. Platini was
the president of UEFA, and Sheikh Ahmad, formerly the general secretary of OPEC, had become a king-maker in the world of international sports.
Platini's bid for FIFA president was
derailed when he became mixed up in an ethical scandal with Blatter. Sheikh Ahmad, noticeable for his long hair, backed Blatter against Prince Ali
of Jordan in Blatter's 2015 re-election weeks
and then Sheikh Salman
of Bahrain against Gianni Infantino
, the eventual winner, Prince Ali
and Frenchman Jerome Champagne
in the 2016 special election to replace
One of the memorable scenes of that election was U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati
, who had emerged as a key powerbroker in his own right, first backing Prince Ali and
then Infantino, and Sheikh Ahmad in an animated discussion (arguing their vote counts?) on the dais reserved for members of the FIFA executive committee.
Well, Sheikh Ahmad resigned from
FIFA on Sunday, the latest big-wig caught up in the FIFA scandals. His resignation came three days after Guam Football Association president Richard Lai
pleaded guilty in Federal court pleaded
guilty to two counts of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts in connection with the payment of over $850,000 in bribes between 2009 and 2014 from senior
The Department of Justice identified an unnamed “co-conspirator #2" as "a high-ranking official of FIFA, the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) and the Olympic
Council of Asia (OCA)" and “ultimately elected to the FIFA Executive Committee." Only only person has that resume: Sheikh Ahmad.
In a statement released by the Olympic Council of
Asia of which he is president, Sheikh Ahmad said right after Lai's plea he was "very surprised by such allegations and strongly denies any wrongdoing" but two days later quit his FIFA post that
included a seat on the body's reform committee.
“I do not want these allegations to create divisions or distract attention from the upcoming AFC and FIFA congresses,” he said,
referring to the Asian Football Confederation elections postponed from earlier this year. Both congresses will be held in Bahrain. (The FIFA congress will be of interest as the USA, Canada and Mexico
will have their petition to have an exclusive bidding window to make their case for hosting the 2026 World Cup heard.)
In the meantime, Sheikh Ahmad can go about his other sports
businesses. He is considered an even more powerful in Olympic sports community, serving as a member of the IOC, in addition to his post on the Olympic Council of Asia and position of president of the
Association of the National Olympic Committees.