07 September, 2011 - Published 13:59 GMT

By Saroj Pathirana
BBC Sinhala service

Fifa 'misled' by Sri Lanka football

The international football governing body, Fifa, is not aware that the cash strapped Federation of Football of Sri Lanka (FFSL) premises is rented out to private enterprises.

Fifa earlier told BBC Sinhala service that it understands the HQ is solely used for the purpose of football governance, although renting out "has been the case in other countries."

But FFSL says its headquarters is currently rented out to private business to cover the costs of running the game.

The statement by FFSL is a clear indication that Fifa has failed to conduct proper audits into FFSL accounts including foreign funds, say anti-corruption campaigners.

No pocketing revenue

President of FFSL, Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara, MP, told BBC Sandeshaya that SLR 300,000 to SLR 400,000 is being spent a month to maintain its Colombo HQ, the Football House.

"There is a huge cost involved in maintaining the Football House, for air-conditioning, for electricity, water, we provide food for the councillors when there is a meeting, and for administration, who is going to pay for that," he said.

"I don't think it is wrong to rent a part of Football House and use that revenue to maintain it. Nobody puts that revenue into their pockets," Mr Weerasekara added.

But Fifa media office said it was not informed of any private business being run in FFSL HQ.

"Member associations are doing this to generate some funds not only in Sri Lanka but also in other countries like Pakistan," Fifa said in an email sent on 12 July.

Fifa 'faliure'

"However, according to our knowledge the HQ of the Sri Lanka FA only hosts FFSL and the FIFA development office."

Ravaya journalist Tiran Kumara Bangamaarachchi has been campaigning against alleged serious corruption in Sri Lanka football.

"We are indeed aware that private businesses are being run from the FFSL HQ," he told BBC Sinhala service, Sandeshaya.

"Now the admission by the FFSL is a clear indication that Fifa has failed to conduct proper audits on what is actually happening to international funding," Mr Bangamaarachchi added.

"It also indicates that Fifa statements rejecting serious corruption in Sri Lanka football lacks credibility."

Fifa is yet to respond to the latest accusations.