The Football Association of Maldives (FAM) has disqualified former national team striker and current Mahibadhoo MP Ahmed Thariq (Tom) from its election, following issues with his endorsement from Club Valencia. FAM made this decision after consulting with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and reviewing FIFA regulations.

FIFA’s rules state that a member club can endorse only one candidate. Club Valencia had endorsed both Thariq and another candidate, Mufaviz Hashim (Mufa), violating this regulation. Consequently, both endorsements were cancelled by FAM’s electoral committee.

Thariq’s candidacy was reliant on endorsements from three first division clubs, including Valencia. The withdrawal of Valencia’s support, as per FAM rules, renders him ineligible as a candidate. He has a two-day period to appeal this decision, with FAM set to deliver a verdict within three days of the appeal.

Mufaviz Hashim, however, remains a valid candidate, having secured endorsements from five other first division clubs, including his own Club Eagles.

The legitimacy of the endorsement letters was not in question. Valencia’s Chairman Abdulla Azmeen and Vice Chairman Ilmau Hussain (Mau) had signed them. However, the conflict arises from the FIFA regulation prohibiting dual endorsements by a single club.

This development has led to internal discord at Valencia, with allegations that Azmeen had resigned as chairman at the time of the endorsement. The Commissioner of Sports, Mohamed Tholal, confirmed Azmeen’s continued role as Chairman, stating that any dismissal did not comply with club regulations.

Should Thariq’s appeal fail, a vote on Mufaviz’s candidacy is scheduled for 31 January.

This comes amid a FIFA audit into allegations of money laundering within the FAM, which has seen the Prosecutor General’s Office direct the Police to investigate the association. The FAM offices were raided, and important documents and hard disks were seized. The allegations point towards possible misappropriation of funds, implicating the FAM President Bassam Adeel Jaleel.

Earlier in the week, FIFA auditors arrived in the Maldives, intent on scrutinising the FAM’s financial dealings and interviewing key figures in the country’s major football clubs. The auditors are also seeking information from the police investigation.

Additional reporting by Ibrahim H. Shihab