A delegation from the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is set to arrive in the Maldives this month to investigate the issues surrounding the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) election.

FIFA and AFC recently informed FAM about their upcoming visit, although the precise date remains undisclosed. The world and regional football governing bodies have instructed FAM to defer the election initially scheduled for 20 April, a directive confirmed by FAM’s acting general secretary, Mohamed Jaushan Shareef.

The delegation from FIFA and AFC intends to hold discussions with key stakeholders to evaluate the current state of Maldivian football and issues within FAM.

This is not the first time FIFA has stepped in to address issues in Maldivian football. In 2019, a FIFA team visited the Maldives in response to attempts to conduct a no-confidence vote against the incumbent head of FAM, Bassam Adeel Jaleel. The motion was eventually dropped after football clubs withdrew their support.

However, the dynamics have undergone a significant transformation since then. A widening rift between FIFA and FAM has emerged, with the latter seemingly not aligning with the world football governing body. In response, FIFA recently suspended development funding to FAM pending the conclusion of investigations into the association.

This suspension of funds coincides with allegations levelled against leading FAM officials, most notably President Jaleel, of misappropriating funds from FIFA and AFC—allegations that FAM has previously refuted. However, in January, the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) of the Maldives indicted Jaleel with embezzlement and money laundering following an investigation into the misappropriation of US$10,000 from funds allocated to FAM by FIFA and AFC.

Adding to the controversy, the legitimacy of an extraordinary congress convened by FAM to elect its electoral and appeal committees has been called into question. A majority of football clubs were excluded from the process, despite FIFA’s previous insistence that it be conducted in accordance with the local football association’s bylaws.