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FIFA faces call to delay World Cup bid vote after corruption claims
World football governing body FIFA is under intense pressure to suspend the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups pending a full inquiry into alleged vote-selling by two senior officials.
Allegations in UK newspaper The Guardian that two key members of the executive committee which will decide the tournament hosts offered to sell their votes have prompted turmoil within the corridors of powers at FIFA's Zurich headquarters and provoked carefully suppressed anger among members of England's 2018 bid team.
The revelations have also caused a schism within football's world governing body over whether or not to postpone its vote, scheduled for 2nd December, to determine the destinations of both World Cups while it investigates serious corruption allegations made in the Sunday Times today.
Although some high‑ranking figures within FIFA insist the vote should still take place as planned other senior officials are actively pressing for postponement. This chimes with the demands of a source close to the bidding process who told the Guardian that FIFA would have to suspend it pending a full inquiry.
Sepp Blatter, the FIFA President, has written to each of the 24 executive committee members promising an in-depth investigation and asking them to remain silent on the subject.
One prominent member of the committee did speak out, however, and said the vote should still go ahead as planned.
Chuck Blazer, based in New York, said he remained optimistic of a swift resolution and an early December vote, stating "it should not take the ethics committee very long to ascertain all the facts.
"The date of 2nd December was chosen specifically and I see no reason why this would be delayed."
As the debate about whether to shelve voting on 2ND December raged on, FIFA's ethics committee embarked on an urgent investigation into the allegations about Nigeria's Amos Adamu, the President of the West African football union, and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, the President of the Oceania Football Confederation.
Both men are members of FIFA's 24 man executive committee and reporters arranged meetings with them by posing as lobbyists for a consortium of private North American companies who wanted to take the World Cup to the United States.
The US, Australia, Qatar, Japan and South Korea are bidding for the 2022 tournament while England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and the Netherlands/Belgium are seeking to host the 2018 event. On Friday, the US, who had been competing on both fronts, withdrew from the race for 2018.
During meetings in London and Cairo, Adamu allegedly told journalists that he wanted $1 million to build four artificial football pitches in Nigeria. He was caught on camera asking for funding to support a "personal project" but subsequently claimed he had been discussing post-World Cup business proposals in his home country and that his vote was not for sale.
Temarii is also alleged to have asked for a payment, in his case $3 million to finance a sports academy, during a meeting in Auckland, New Zealand. The Oceania Football Federation has duly opened an emergency inquiry. In total u ndercover reporters spoke to six senior Fifa officials, past and present, who all suggested paying huge bribes to executive committee members.
While Temarii could not be contacted yesterday (Sunday), Adamu refused to comment.
As no African nation is involved in bidding for either tournament and therefore harbours no vested interests, the continent could hold the balance of power in the vote.
In a statement yesterday, FIFA promised to "immediately analyse the material available" but added the rider that "only once this analysis has been concluded will we be able to decide on any potential next steps."
Whatever the voting time-frame, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that he will scrutinise FIFA's responses, stating "it's disturbing to read what we read in today's newspapers ... these are serious allegations. We want all the proceedings in the World Cup bid to be carried out in a way that is ethically correct and that therefore means that everybody can respect the process and respect the result. Britain, whatever happens and whatever other countries do, will deal with this in a correct way, doing absolutely nothing corrupt, paying no bribes and not corrupting this system in any way."
Blazer offered a different perspective. "I have met five different bid committees," he said. "All have been totally professional, not alluding to any other types of benefit. I don't think people should get the wrong idea of the FIFA process."
Image shows FIFA's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
1st July 2010 - BUCKLEY DEFENDS AUSTRALIA’S FIFA WORLD CUP BID
3rd February 2009 - AUSTRALIA ENTERS RACE FOR FIFA WORLD CUP
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