May 10, 2011 11:18 pm

Fifa executives in focus on bribery allegations

Fifa is once more engulfed in scandal after a dramatic session in parliament witnessed the former chairman of England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid accuse four members of the executive committee that selected the hosts of unethical behaviour.

Lord Triesman used parliamentary privilege to make the allegations as he appeared before a committee of MPs in the House of Commons and provided details of conversations that took place during England’s campaign to gain support from the 24 members of the governing body’s committee.

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He said: “There were some things put to me which in my view didn’t represent proper and ethical behaviour on the part of exco [executive committee] members.”

MPs on the culture, media and sport committee also used parliamentary privilege to publish new evidence submitted last week by The Sunday Times, which last year carried out an undercover investigation into the World Cup bidding process. The MPs said Qatar, which ended up winning the 2022 vote, paid two other Fifa members $1.5m (£916,000) each.

Lord Triesman levelled two accusations during the hearing at Jack Warner, a Fifa vice-president. The peer recounted how, at a meeting in a London hotel, Mr Warner asked for England to fund the building of an education centre in Trinidad, at an estimated £2.5m.

At a later meeting, Lord Triesman claimed that Mr Warner asked the England bid team to pay £500,000 to purchase the World Cup TV rights for Haiti to help with its earthquake recovery.

On both occasions, Mr Warner suggested the payments should be “channelled through him”.

Lord Triesman in the hearing also accused Nicolás Leóz, Paraguay’s representative, of seeking during a meeting in Asunción to extract a knighthood “as an appropriate way of recognising his achievements in world football”.

He then claimed that Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, in a translated conversation about ex-President Lula’s apparent support for the England bid, told Lord Triesman: “Lula is nothing. You come and tell me what you have for me.”

The fourth allegation concerned Worawi Makudi of Thailand who in a phone conversation insisted that the broadcast rights for a forthcoming England-Thailand match should go to him.

The allegations were denied by Mr Warner, who told Sky Sports News: “I’ve never asked Triesman nor any other person, Englishman or otherwise, for any money for my vote at any time.”

The two Fifa members named by the MPs were Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast. Damian Collins, Tory MP, said a submission to the committee sent by The Sunday Times said Qatar used a fixer to secure the payments to them.

Last year, a Fifa investigation into other Sunday Times allegations led to two of the 24 members, Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, being banned.

Speaking in Zurich, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said he would send any evidence for the parliamentary hearing to the body’s ethics committee.

Jeremy Hunt, culture secretary, stepped up the pressure on Fifa: “This is the world’s most popular game and it is up to Fifa to make sure everyone can be confident in the process of the World Cup,” he said.

“The International Olympic Committee had to face up to big changes after the judgment of Salt Lake City [bribery allegations relating to the award of the 2002 Winter Olympics to the US city, which led to widespread reforms of the IOC’s bidding process]. They restored confidence in their processes and Fifa need to do the same.”

Lord Triesman resigned last year after a newspaper sting which secretly taped him discussing possible collusion between two bidding countries.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Rigby

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