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IOC bans former OPEC & FIFA official, Sheikh Ahmad for 15 years



Kuwait's member of the FIFA executive committee Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah leaves after a meeting of the FIFA Council at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

Kuwait’s Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has been banned for 15 years from all positions within the International Olympic Committee over ethics breaches, the Olympic ruling body has decided.

In a letter seen by Reuters, IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper informed all IOC members of the Executive Board decision to sanction the once-powerful Sheikh Ahmad over a court case in Switzerland.

“The IOC Executive Board decided to confirm the seriousness of the breaches of ethical principles by Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah, including a betrayal of his IOC Member’s oath, as well as the seriousness of the damage to the IOC’s reputation, which has jeopardised its interests,” De Kepper said in the May 3 letter.

“And consequently, to sanction Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah by suspending all the rights, prerogatives and functions deriving from his IOC membership for a period of fifteen years starting from the date of the previous sanction decision by the IOC Executive Board on 27 July 2023.”

He was banned for three years last year over his alleged involvement in the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) elections, after the IOC approved recommendations issued by its ethics body.


A former OPEC secretary-general, Sheikh Ahmad was already self-suspended as a member of the IOC after being convicted by a Swiss criminal court of forgery in 2021, following which he also stepped down as president of the OCA.

Sheikh Ahmad was once one of the most influential people in sports politics, holding key positions on both the IOC as well as world soccer’s governing body FIFA. He was named Kuwait’s defence minister last year.

A former close ally of current IOC President Thomas Bach around the time the German lawyer ran for office in 2013, the Kuwaiti also led the Association of National Olympic Committees.

He was also in charge of the IOC’s purse — Olympic Solidarity — which financially supports athletes and national Olympic committees among others.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Governing Bodies

FIFA clocks 120 today



Robert Guerin, FIFA founding president 120 years ago


There may be no celebration, but the world football governing body is 120 years old today, having been founded on 21 May 1904 in Paris, France. It is the foundation in France that occasioned its French name as Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

It was founded at the rear of the headquarters of Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA) at the Rue Saint Honoré 229 in Paris.

Rue Saint-Honore 229, where FIFA was founded in 1904

Though founded in Paris, the headquarters moved to Zurich, Switzerland in 1932. In Zurich, the headquarters have also changed twice with the current one being a five-story building, two of which are underground.

Bahnhofstrrasse 77 in Zurich which housed FIFA from 1932 to 1954.

The French name and acronym are universally adopted outside French-speaking countries. The founding members were the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain (represented by Real Madrid), Sweden and Switzerland.


FIFA’s Home from 1954 to 1977: “Villa Derwad” at Hitzigweg 11, Zurich.

On the same day, the  German FA (DFB) reportedly  declared its intention to affiliate through a telegram. The British, despite their claims to be the originators of football, were not founding members of FIFA and only joined.

From 1977 to 1979, The fourth building to house FIFA: Aurorastrasse 60 in Zurich

England joined on 14 April 1905, Scotland and Wales  in 1910 while the fourth British association, Norther Ireland joined in 1911.

FIFA House inaugurated on 21 May 1979

 The founding president of FIFA was Robert Guerin of France. The first FIFA Congress was helld two days later on 23 May 1904 where the president was elected.

 FIFA Headquarters since 29 May 2007

The founders at the time, including Victor E. Schneider of Switzerland and Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann of the Netherlands – both vice presidents,  as well as first Secretary, Louis Muhlinghaus of Belgium, faced difficulties as FIFA only existed on paper.  

FIFA foundation documents

By the second FIFA Congress in Paris from 10 to 12 June 1905, other national associations of Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary joined.


 In the following months, the founding president, Guerin increasingly withdrew from sports and handed over to the vice presidents. By 1906, the English man, Daniel Burley Woolfall was elected as the FIFA President.

 At the time up till 1909, , FIFA only consisted of European countries. The first outside Europe countries joined in the following order: South Africa in 1909/10, Argentina and Chile in 1912 and USA in 1913.

 Nigeria provisionally joined in 1959 and got confirmed at the Rome Congress of 22 August 1960 as joint 87th member along with Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Malta and Puerto Rico.

  Despite existing since 1904, FIFA was unable to organise a tournament of its own until the first World Cup in 1930. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 was a major blow.

FIFA was in comatose. Its president, Daniel Burley Woolfall died in 1918.


 While the war was on and in the absence of a president, secretary, Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschmann kept FIFA alive from his offices in Amsterdam.

As one of the founders himself, Hirschmann took contacts of all the members at the end of the war and was aided by Jules Rimet, the president of the French FA. Following the war, the four British associations left FIFA.

On 1 March 1921, Rimet became the third FIFA president.FIFA came back to life.  He initiated the first World Championship in 1930. The membership grew steadily from 20.

In the 33 years of Rimet’s presidency, there was an upswing in FIFA membership and and activities.

 On passing on the reins in 1954 at the beginning of the fifth World Cup in Switzerland, FIFA had 85 members. At the moment, FIFA has 211 member countries.


There have been nine substantive presidents in 120 years while three others – Carl Anton Wilhelm Hirschman of Netherlands (1918-1920), Ernst B. Thommen of Switzerland (1961) and Issa Hayatou of Cameroon (2015-2016)  were in acting capacities.

  Brazil’s Joao Havelange became the first non-European president in 1974.  The current president is Gianni Infantino, an Italian-Swiss.

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Governing Bodies

FIFA gets new Secretary General



Swedish official Mattias Grafström has been appointed as FIFA's secretary general ad interim with immediate effect ©Getty Images

FIFA has appointed a new Secretary General. He is Mattias Grafström. His appointment was sequel to his nomination on an ad interim basis in October 2023. The Sweden/Netherlands national now takes over from Fatma Samoura who stepped down last year.

“I am humbled and deeply honoured to have been appointed FIFA Secretary General and I would like to thank the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, the Confederation Presidents, the Vice-Presidents and the members of FIFA Council for having trusted me to serve football in such an important position,” said Secretary General Mattias Grafström.

“Football is my passion since I was born. I started playing it as a child and worked in football all my life at all different levels. There are therefore no words to express my feelings as I accept with pride and with a great sense of responsibility, the biggest challenge of my professional life. Together with the FIFA team, I will of course dedicate myself more than ever to the service of our beautiful game of football, FIFA and its 211 Member Associations.”

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Governing Bodies

FIFA set to introduce Women’s Club World Cup



A new women’ football tournament is in the offing as FIFA has muted the idea of a 16-team FIFA Women’s World Cup. The first edition is projected to hold in January-February 2026. This is one of the landmark decision of the FIFA Council while approving the Women’s International Match Calendar 2026-2029. The meeting of the FIFA Council is part of the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, Thailand.

The approved FIFA Calendar for women’s football runs thus:

FIFA Futsal Women’s World Cup 2025™: The first edition of the event will take place in the Philippines.

FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup™ Morocco 2025-2029: The slot allocation will be as follows: AFC: 4; CAF: 5; Concacaf: 4; CONMEBOL: 4; OFC: 2; UEFA: 5.

FIFA U-17 World Cup™ Qatar 2025-2029: The slot allocation was confirmed as follows: AFC: 9; CAF: 10; Concacaf: 8; CONMEBOL: 7; OFC: 3; UEFA 11.


FIFA Arab Cup: At the request of the Qatar Football Association, Qatar will host the tournament in 2025, 2029 and 2033, which will follow the principle of an invitational competition not included in the International Match Calendar.

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