FIFA opens 2-day meeting on scandal-hit World Cup

Zurich: FIFA`s ruling executive committee started a two-day meeting Thursday could alter the shape of the scandal-hit 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter chaired a meeting that will consider delaying one or both World Cup decisions until more credibility and public confidence has been restored to the process.

Originally, the session was for the executive committee to select a voting procedure for the Dec. 2 secret ballot to choose the two hosts. But allegations of bribery and corruption involving FIFA executive committee members Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, along with two of the nine bidders, have shaken FIFA`s control over the two-year, multimillion dollar global lobbying contest.

FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-Joon of South Korea told The Associated Press on Thursday he expected a "constructive and productive" meeting.

Adamu and Temarii were provisionally suspended. Reports allege that former FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen said Spain-Portugal and Qatar struck a deal giving each seven votes from the 24-man FIFA executive committee for their respective tournaments.

FIFA`s ethics committee is examining evidence of alleged corruption that was reported by the British Sunday Times newspaper. The panel also is investigating four former FIFA executive committee members who were reported saying voters` support was for sale.

Ethics chairman Claudio Sulser said last week he aims to publish findings by Nov. 17, but warned that Adamu and Temarii could be suspended for another 20 days — beyond the Dec. 2 vote — if his team needs more time to investigate.

Voting also could proceed with one or more candidates disqualified if the ethics probe decides bidding rules were broken by a vote-swapping alliance.

A leader of the Spain-Portugal committee bidding for the 2018 World Cup denied it was colluding with 2022 contender Qatar.

"The Iberian bid denies reaching any pact with Qatar or any other candidate and has made itself completely available to FIFA to investigate the allegations," bid chief executive Miguel Angel Lopez said in a statement.

The 2018 contest also includes England, Russia and the co-bid of Belgium-Holland. The 2022 race also involves the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

In other scheduled business, FIFA`s executive will receive a progress report on preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. FIFA also will discuss ongoing problems in its relations with some national members, including Nigeria, Togo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Blatter is expected to appear at a news conference after the meetings end on Friday.

Bureau Report