Further corruption claims in World Cup bidding

Updated: Oct 24, 2010, 20:21 PM IST

London: Former FIFA secretary-general Michel Zen-Ruffinen added to the controversy surrounding the process for hosting the 2018 and 2022 football World Cup Sunday.

Zen-Ruffinen was caught on film by the Sunday Times detailing a list of executive members from the world governing body FIFA, saying how much their votes would cost.

He described one of them as ‘the biggest gangster on earth.’

Zen-Ruffinen also claimed that the Spain/Portugal bid has struck a deal with Qatar to exchange votes, which is illegal under FIFA procedural regulations. Qatar denied the allegations.

‘People expect a battle between Russia and England but they are very much disturbed by the alliance with Qatar, because if Spain start with seven, which nobody was expecting ... that’s a real alliance,’ the 51-year-old lawyer said.

‘It’s bound, tacked with a nice ribbon and that’s really problematic. This is the most problematic thing. And I was informed about it last week. And this is not just a rumour. That’s a fact.’

Zen-Ruffinen, who was secretary-general for 16 years before falling out with president Joseph Blatter in 2002, named two FIFA executive committee members he said would be susceptible to financial inducements.

He said a third was ‘the guy you can have with ladies and not money ...’ and described a fourth member as ‘the biggest gangster you will find on earth’, whose vote would cost ‘a minimum of half a million (dollars).’

Zen-Ruffinen later said that he had only been recounting ‘well-known rumours.’

Meanwhile Ahongalu Fusimaholi, a member of Oceania’s executive committee, suggested that Reynald Temarii, the FIFA executive committee member for Oceania who was suspended last week over vote-rigging concerns, had pledged his support to Spain-Portugal.

‘Oceania have indirectly said they will support England,’ he said. ‘But they are not.’ Asked who they were supporting, he replied, ‘Spain.’

Temarii and another executive, Amos Adamu of Nigeria, were suspended Wednesday by the FIFA ethics committee along with four lower-ranked officials over earlier accusations from the Sunday Times.

A final ruling on their fate is set for November, ahead of the World Cup host elections planned for December 2.

England is competing with Russia and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Netherlands to host the 2018 tournament. Qatar’s rivals for 2022 are Australia, United States, Japan and South Korea.

Bureau Report