Belfast Telegraph

Fifa hit by new bribery scandal

By Oliver Wright

Four members of the international football governing body Fifa sought “bribes” in return for backing England's failed 2018 World Cup bid, the former chairman of the Football Association claimed yesterday.

Lord Triesman said representatives from Brazil, Paraguay, Trinidad and Thailand asked for favours in exchange for voting for England to get the football tournament — including one, Nicolas Leoz, who wanted a knighthood.

The latest developments mean eight Fifa executive committee members — one third of the total of 24 — have either been alleged to have been, or already found, guilty of impropriety in relation to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

The committee also heard that two more Fifa executive committee members were paid nearly £1m to vote for Qatar's bid.

The Conservative MP Damian Collins stated that evidence submitted by The Sunday Times claimed that the Fifa vice-president, Issa Hayatou, from Cameroon, and Jacques Anouma, from the Ivory Coast, were involved.

In a letter published by the committee it was alleged that a whistleblower had told them that cash changed hands for votes: “The whistleblower said that the cash was to go to the three members' football federations but there would be no questions asked about how the money was used.”

Fifa's ethics committee last year banned two other executive committee members after the paper's investigation into World Cup bidding.

Lord Triesman told the committee that he would now take his evidence to Fifa but admitted he should have taken action earlier.

“These were some of the things that were put to me personally, sometimes in the presence of others, which in my view did not represent proper and ethical behaviour on the part of members of the executive committee.”

But he added the FA chose not to complain at the time for fear of jeopardising England's bid, which ended up collecting only two out of 22 votes in December last year as Russia landed the tournament.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport committee, said he would be writing to the Fifa president Sepp Blatter calling on him to launch an investigation into the evidence “as a matter of urgency”.

Mr Blatter demanded evidence of wrongdoing by committee members, and said he would act immediately if it was forthcoming.

“I was shocked (upon hearing), but one has to see the evidence,” the 75-year-old said.

It was claimed that Fifa vice-president Jack Warner asked England to build an education centre in Trinidad.

Mr Warner said the allegations made against him by Lord Triesman were “a piece of nonsense”.

He said: “I've never asked Triesman nor any other person, Englishman or otherwise, for any money for my vote at any time.

“In the English campaign, before Triesman was unceremoniously kicked out, I've spoken to him on his initiative on only three occasions, while I've spoken to his other colleagues on other occasions and not one of them will ever corroborate his bit of trivia.”

Mike Lee, the London-based public relations consultant who worked on Qatar's bid, said he was unaware of any payments being made.

Mr Lee, formerly communications director of the Premier League, Uefa and London's 2012 Olympic bid, told MPs: “I was working at the highest level of that bid and talking at length with the chairman and CEO and saw no evidence of any of these allegations.”

Committee findings

FIFA were hit by bribery claims at the Culture, Media and Sport committee hearings into football governance yesterday.

The Football Association and the Premier League also found themselves in the spotlight.

Here are the main points from a dramatic day in the Culture, Media and Sport committee hearings into football governance

  • Select committee said it would publish Sunday Times claims that Fifa vice-president Issa Hayatou from Cameroon and Jacques Anouma from the Ivory Coast were paid $1.5 million by the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid.
  • Former Football Association chairman and World Cup 2018 bid leader Lord Triesman claimed Fifa vice-president Jack Warner asked for money — suggested to be £2.5million — to build an education centre in Trinidad with the cash to be channelled through him, and later £500,000 to buy Haiti World Cup TV rights for the earthquake-hit nation, also to go through Warner.
  • Triesman also claimed Paraguay's Fifa member Nicolas Leoz asked for a knighthood.
  • Brazil's Fifa member Ricardo Terra Teixeira told Triesman to “come and tell me what you have got for me”.
  • Thailand's Fifa member Worawi Makudi wanted to be given the TV rights to a friendly between England and the Thai national team, Triesman said.
  • Corruption concerns were not reported to Fifa because Triesman feared collapse in support for 2018 World Cup bid.
  • Triesman claimed Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore offered to support the England 2018 World Cup bid in return for FA backing for his controversial 'Game 39' proposal.

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