FIFA to meet Qatar 2022 bid whistleblower

by AP on May 20, 2011

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Further corruption allegations from the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests will ensure the focus leading up to the FIFA presidential election vote in 13 days is on integrity.

Almost six months after FIFA's executive committee awarded Qatar the 2022 event, its president Sepp Blatter has revealed a former bid employee will be interviewed about claims to a British newspaper that two African voters were paid $1.5 million ($A1.41 million) in bribes.

The undisclosed whistleblower's evidence could yet force FIFA to open - and conclude - an ethics investigation within days, Blatter has said during a campaign briefing sidetracked by attempts to repair his organisation's tarnished reputation.

"It is of paramount importance that we have this situation clarified on (May) 27th," Blatter, who has a June 1 election date with Qatari challenger Mohamed bin Hammam, said on Thursday.

Blatter even referred to the "alarming", although still unlikely, prospect of a 2022 rerun if it was proven high-level corruption helped Qatar deny the US victory in a five-nation race.

Blatter spoke to reporters in Zurich as English football officials, meeting in London, took a measure of revenge for their 2018 bid's humiliation in FIFA's home city in December last year.

England's Football Association said it would snub both presidential candidates and abstain in the poll of FIFA's 208 national members.

"There are a well-reported range of issues both recent and current which, in the view of the FA board, make it difficult to support either candidate," FA chairman David Bernstein said in a statement.

Britain's media and parliament has aimed a torrent of corruption claims at FIFA in recent months that now implicate eight of the 24-man FIFA high command originally tasked with choosing World Cup hosts.

FIFA's prize asset took another hit on Thursday, as members of a match-fixing gang which admitted to bribing the referee of a 2010 World Cup qualifying match were convicted and sentenced in a German court.

Blatter cut a calm figure despite the turmoil that sometimes seems to be the norm surrounding football's governing body, which he has led since 1998.

The 75-year-old Swiss said The Sunday Times had agreed to bring its source to share evidence with FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke and legal director Marco Villiger.

"(The Sunday Times) are happy, they agreed that they will bring this whistleblower here to Zurich and then we will have a discussion, an investigation of this," Blatter said.

The former Qatar bid insider claims Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma from Ivory Coast were paid $US1.5 million to vote for Qatar.

Blatter said FIFA is "anxiously awaiting" more evidence before potentially asking its ethics committee to examine allegations made in Britain's parliament last week.

"It was said in such a way that 'we are giving it to you,"' the whistleblower reportedly said. "It was going to their federation. Basically, if they took it into their pocket we don't give a jack."

The whistleblower said Qatar agreed to pay a third African voter, Amos Adamu, for his support. The Nigerian was later suspended from voting after a FIFA ethics court ruled he solicited bribes from undercover Sunday Times reporters posing as lobbyists. FIFA vice-president Reynald Temarii, from Tahiti, was also stripped of his World Cup voting rights.

Though all the allegations happened on Blatter's watch, an investigation could do more damage to bin Hammam, his rival who played a central role in Qatar's 2022 victory.

"The ethics committee is already alerted and alarmed. They are not just lying on the beach," Blatter said.

"All the members will come for the Congress (on June 1), so it will be easy to have an ethics committee convened in very short notice."

FIFA is also awaiting evidence to support further allegations made to parliament by David Triesman, the former head of England's bid and The FA.

David Triesman told British lawmakers four long-standing FIFA executive committee members - Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi - engaged in "improper and unethical" conduct in the 2018 bidding won by Russia.

All six FIFA voters placed under fresh suspicion have denied wrongdoing.