Sunday 21 January 2018

FIFA bosses 'sought gifts for World Cup votes'

Oliver Wright in London

FOUR members of the international football governing body 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.

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

Giving evidence for the first time on the allegations, Lord Triesman said that:

  • The Fifa vice-president Jack Warner asked for around £2.5m (€2.8m) to build an education centre in Trinidad, with the cash to be channelled through him. He also asked for a £500,000 (€570,000) donation to buy Haiti's World Cup TV rights so matches could be shown free in the nation. It was later alleged that he owned the rights himself.
  • Paraguay's Fifa member Nicolas Leoz asked for a knighthood in return for his backing. Lord Triesman said he had been told through a translator that Mr Leoz had no need for money.
  • Brazil's Ricardo Teixeira told Lord Triesman that Brazil President Lula's potential support for the England bid amounted to "nothing" and that he should "come and tell me what you have got for me".
  • Thailand's Worawi Makudi wanted to be given the TV rights to a friendly between England and the Thai national team -- although this was never directly linked by him to the England bid.

The committee also heard that two more Fifa executive committee members were paid nearly £1m (€1.1m) 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 told them that cash changed hands for votes.

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 for fear of jeopardising England's bid, which ended up collecting only two out of 22 votes as Russia landed the tournament.

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

Mr Warner said the allegations made against him by Lord Triesman were "a piece of nonsense". (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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