World Cup vote blighted by new corruption claim
Zurich: Renewed corruption allegations involving FIFA executive members surfaced on Monday just days before they are due to appoint the hosts of football’s 2018 and 2022 World Cups under the eyes of world leaders.
The Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reported that Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, African football chief Issa Hayatou and his South American counterpart Nicolas Leoz were tied to a secret list of payments from bankrupt FIFA marketing partner ISMM/ISL a decade ago.
The firm collapsed in 2001 in a storm of controversy over alleged kickbacks for TV rights contracts, prompting a FIFA criminal complaint that was later dropped.
A court in the Swiss canton of Zug eventually handed down fines on three ISMM/ISL executives in 2008 for embezzlement or accounting offences.
Leoz was already listed as a recipient of suspect payments from the marketing firm, alongside several companies based in offshore havens, in evidence presented by the Zug prosecutor in 2005.
All three long-standing executive committee members are among the 22 remaining top officials due to vote on Thursday on the World Cup hosts.
FIFA’s ethics committee sidelined two others, Oceania football chief Reynald Temarii and Nigeria’s Amos Adamu, on November 18 when it suspended them for misconduct or bribery following an undercover British newspaper report.
There were also signs that the secret ballot on Thursday could be thrown into disarray, as Oceania’s Football Confederation sought the right to vote by replacing Temarii.
Temarii’s lawyer, Geraldine Lesieur, told AFP that FIFA had conditioned his substitution on its executive committee on a decision not to appeal against his one-year suspension for misconduct, after being cleared of bribery.
However, he has still not received the full ruling, a key legal step that would allow him to decide, she explained.
“Mr Temarii will decide after he has been informed of the motivated ruling,” she said. “We are in an impasse.”
Temarii has told AFP that his vote for the two hosts would have been dictated by the choice of Oceania’s football chiefs.
FIFA could not be reached immediately for a reaction.
England, Russia and joint bids by Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium are in the running to host the 2018 World Cup while Australia, the United States, Japan, Qatar and South Korea are bidding for 2022.
British Prime minister David Cameron, Prince William, Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Qatari crown princes were amongst the dignitaries expected to join final pitches by their bids in front of FIFA’s executive committee on Wednesday and Thursday.