Fifa banned two of its executive committee members from voting to decide the countries that will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups following an investigation into newspaper allegations of corruption but, at the same time, criticised the English media’s reporting methods.
Video footage from a Sunday Times undercover investigation last month appeared to show that Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii were ready to accept payments from journalists posing as a lobbying consortium in return for their support for bidding countries.
Mr Adamu, a Nigerian official, was given a three-year ban from all football-related activity and fined SFr10,000 (£6,260). He was found to be in breach of his fiduciary duties and rules relating to accepting bribes. Mr Temarii, from Tahiti, was banned for one year and fined SFr5,000, having breached his fiduciary duties.
Mr Adamu said he would lodge an appeal, while the Oceania Football Confederation said it would respect any decision from Mr Temarii to challenge the ruling.
England’s bid team, though buoyant about their chances, are nervous of the potential damage to their campaign because of a perception among Fifa executive committee members that the Sunday Times investigation is part of an anti-Fifa agenda in the English media.
FA approves delayed national football centre
A day after England’s 2-1 defeat at Wembley in a friendly against France, the Football Association gave the green light to a £105m national football centre in Burton-upon-Trent, writes Roger Blitz.
The long-planned project, which the FA dubbed a “University of Football”, has been hobbled by financial problems at the governing body. But an FA board meeting on Thursday agreed to underwrite the project. Work will begin in January and be completed in 2012.
Alex Horne, FA chief executive, said: “From being the standout country without a national training centre, it enables England to set a new standard in coach education, sports medicine and research. It will effect a fundamental change in the way that football is taught and will help to transmit consistent values across game.”
Bid leaders were moved to write to Fifa members distancing the bid from English media coverage. On Wednesday, Andy Anson, England 2018 chief executive, branded the BBC unpatriotic for planning to broadcast a Panorama documentary on the World Cup bidding process just a few days before votes are cast in Zurich on December 2.
Announcing the bans, Claudio Sulser, Fifa’s ethics committee chairman, said the Sunday Times allegations were “sensationalist”, and based on a few minutes of footage, whereas Fifa’s investigation had looked at several hours of material sent to the governing body by the newspaper.
“What I cannot tolerate is the fact that they changed the sentences, they changed the way they presented the truth,” he said. “If footage is taken out of context, that’s twisting the facts.”
The investigation has cast a shadow over the hotly contested race to host the two tournaments and forced Fifa to defend itself against concerns about the transparency of the organisation and the bidding process.
The absence of the two officials, which cuts the number of voting members from 24 to 22, could also affect England’s chances because the bid was confident of having secured the backing of at least one.
Fifa said it had found insufficient evidence to prove two bidders, thought to be Qatar and the joint Spain/Portugal bid, were colluding to secure votes.
Jérôme Valcke, Fifa’s secretary-general, declined to say whether he believed England’s chances had been affected by the undercover investigation.
England, Russia and the joint bids of Spain/Portugal and Belgium/the Netherlands are vying for the 2018 race while Japan, South Korea, Australia, the US and Qatar are competing for 2022.