Sheikh Ahmad has strongly denied wrongdoing ©Getty Images

FIFA Council member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah has "strongly denied" any wrongdoing after the high-ranking official appeared to have been identified in a United States Department of Justice (DoJ) document in connection with the investigation into widespread corruption within the governing body.

In a statement released by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) President, a key powerbroker in Olympic sporting corridors, said he was "very surprised by such allegations".

Sheikh Ahmad, also President of the OCA, has vowed to "vigorously defend his integrity and reputation".

It comes after the DoJ document listed "co-conspirator number two" in the case involving Guam's Richard Lai, who pleaded guilty to charges of receiving nearly $1 million (£773,000/€915,000) in bribes, as a "high-ranking official of FIFA, the Kuwait Football Association (KFA) and the OCA".

It also says the Kuwaiti official was then elected onto the Executive Committee, which has since been rebranded as the FIFA Council.

"Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah is aware of the media speculations concerning alleged payments made to Richard Lai who is being investigated by US authorities for tax and other alleged violations," read the statement.

"Sheikh Ahmad is very surprised by such allegations and strongly denies any wrongdoing.

"He will vigorously defend his integrity and reputation and that of any organisation that he represents in any relevant legal review. 

"There will be no further comments on this matter."

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson confirmed in a statement sent to insidethegames that Sheikh Ahmad had "put himself at the disposal" of the FIFA Ethics Committee.

"We have been informed that Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah has written to the FIFA Ethics Committee on this matter and has put himself at their disposal," the statement read.

"And even though it is not related to any IOC matter he has also informed the IOC chief ethics and compliance officer."

Richard Lai has pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the United States ©Getty Images
Richard Lai has pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the United States ©Getty Images

Lai, a former member of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Committee and the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee, was suspended for 90 days by world football's governing body yesterday.

The 55-year-old pleaded guilty to two charges of wire fraud conspiracy in front of US District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn.

His involvement marked the first time the ongoing DoJ probe into corruption within FIFA, which has already seen over 40 officials and entities indicted, had reached Asia.

American citizen Lai admitted being paid $100,000 (£77,000/€91,000) by an AFC official who was then running for the FIFA Presidency against disgraced Sepp Blatter in 2011.

The money was allegedly used in exchange for Lai's vote and support.

It was also revealed that Lai received a further $850,000 (£657,000/€777,000) between 2009 and 2014 from various officials in the Asian region to help them further their influence within the AFC and FIFA.

The bribes were to "use his influence to advance the interests of the Kuwaiti official, including helping the Kuwaiti official identify other members of the Asian Football Confederation to whom they could offer bribes", prosecutors said.

It is alleged the $100,000 was given to Lai by Mohammed bin Hammam, who initially ran for the top job at world football's governing body six years ago, before he withdrew three days before the election.

However, he is not named by prosecutors nor Lai.

The Qatari was banned for life in 2011 for his part in the cash-for-votes scandal, but later had this annulled at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) who found "insufficient evidence" to support the sanction.

He was banned for life again by FIFA in December 2012.

The statement from Sheikh Ahmad comes on the same day FIFA reportedly denied Gianni Infantino was facing another Ethics Committee investigation.

German magazine Der Spiegel claimed the FIFA President could potentially be investigated for allegedly influencing the Confederation of African Football (CAF) election last month, where Ahmad Ahmad unseated incumbent Issa Hayatou.

His attendance at an event in Zimbabwe, organised by Phillip Chiyangwa, who was actively campaigning for Ahmad to beat Hayatou in the election, is thought to be at the centre of the issue.

Infantino has denied the claims.

The FIFA Ethics Committee cleared Infantino of wrongdoing in August following a series of questionable expense claims from the Swiss-Italian, including private jets from Russia to Qatar, host nations of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.

Among the other allegations published in June by German publication Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung were claims that Infantino made a number of other purchases at FIFA's expense, including a fitness stepper machine, mattresses, a tuxedo, flowers and football boots.