Sunday 25 September 2016

Ex-Fifa official tells court of bribes for World Cup votes

Gordon Rayner in London

Published 04/06/2015 | 02:30

File photo dated 27-10-2013 of FIFA President Sepp Blatter during a press conference at the Mayfair Hotel, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday June 3, 2015. Sepp Blatter has announced his resignation as president of FIFA. See PA story SOCCER FIFA Timeline. Photo credit should read Adam Davy/PA Wire.
File photo dated 27-10-2013 of FIFA President Sepp Blatter during a press conference at the Mayfair Hotel, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday June 3, 2015. Sepp Blatter has announced his resignation as president of FIFA. See PA story SOCCER FIFA Timeline. Photo credit should read Adam Davy/PA Wire.

The former Fifa executive committee member Chuck Blazer has told a US federal judge that he and others on the governing body's ruling panel agreed to receive bribes to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

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Prosecutors revealed the transcript last night of the 2013 hearing in a US Court during which Blazer agreed to plead guilty to racketeering and other charges.

Blazer, the former No. 2 official of soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean, said: "I and others on the Fifa executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup."

He also said he arranged bribes around 1992 in the vote for which country would host the 1998 World Cup.

Meanwhile, Sepp Blatter is facing growing calls to step down immediately as Fifa president after prompting outrage by suggesting he could cling on to the job until March.

Following the news that Mr Blatter is being scrutinised by the FBI, senior football officials said it would be a "farce" if the 79-year-old stayed at the helm after Tuesday's announcement that he is to stand down.

The Jordanian Football Association said it was studying Fifa rules to see if there was any way Prince Ali bin Hussein, who was defeated by Mr Blatter in the Fifa presidential election last week, could take over until a new election is arranged, which could take another 10 months.

Greg Dyke, the chairman of the Football Association, said Mr Blatter was already a lame duck and would not be able to make any headway in reforming Fifa.

Mr Dyke also said Qatar should be stripped of the 2022 World Cup tournament if its bidding process is found to have been corrupt, but ruled out any chance of England hosting the tournament in Qatar's place.

Mr Blatter decided to quit after developments in the US, where the FBI is investigating allegations of bribery and corruption in world football.

Yet he was back at work at Fifa's headquarters in Zurich yesterday, where he was given a standing ovation for several minutes by 400 Fifa staff when he addressed them about the future of the organisation.

Kozo Tashima, the former Japanese player who joined Fifa's executive committee last week, was unimpressed. He said that if Mr Blatter was facing allegations of impropriety he "shouldn't be allowed to stay on a moment longer".

He added: "He cannot be allowed to leave things as fuzzy as they are, and it's a kind of a farce now for him to stay in office for the next six months or however long it takes to decide the new president."

David Bernstein, the former FA chairman, likened Mr Blatter to the monster in the film 'Alien', saying: "You could not get the alien out of that spaceship, no matter how hard you tried. And when, in the end, they did get it out, they found that it was clinging on to the outside. This man somehow can't help himself. He will cling on to the last moment.

"It desperately needs a fresh temporary person to handle this transitionary period. Blatter's now the last person who should be doing that."

Prince Ali, the son of the late King Hussein, believes there is a chance of him taking over from Mr Blatter as interim president until an election is held.

Salah Sabra, the deputy chief of the Jordanian FA, said there was no Fifa statute demanding an election if a president resigns, and Mr Blatter "has resigned and not resigned. It seems he is giving himself another year (in office). He might change his mind".

Sources in the US confirmed yesterday that the FBI corruption probe includes scrutiny of the bidding and voting process for the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 World Cups.

Mr Dyke said England would not bid for the 2022 tournament if Qatar lost it, because Fifa prefers to rotate the World Cup between the continents.

He said: "I think it would be pretty certain it wouldn't come to Europe - you wouldn't have two successive World Cups in Europe.

"So I would say it would be most likely to go to America, who were the runners-up."

The Qatari FA responded to Mr Dyke's comments by accusing him of being biased against the Middle East countries, adding: "We would urge Mr Dyke to let the legal process take its course and concentrate on delivering his promise to build an England team capable of winning the 2022 World Cup in Qatar."

England could yet bid for the 2018 tournament if Russia was stripped of it, but time is running out for investigators to produce evidence that Russia's bid was corrupt.(© Daily Telegraph London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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