BBC makes new allegations against FIFA officials

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BBC makes new allegations against FIFA officials

ZURICH - An investigation by the British Broadcasting Corporation, to be aired in a program on Monday, is accusing three FIFA executives of taking bribes, three days before the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups are decided.

The BBC’s Panorama program, which also accuses another FIFA executive of planning the corrupt sale of 2010 World Cup tickets, offered what it said was new evidence over the ruling body’s appointment of International Sports and Leisure as its marketing arm. ISL went bankrupt in 2001.

The program said members Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, hosts of the next World Cup, Confederation of African Football chief Issa Hayatou and South American Football Confederation head Nicolas Leoz took bribes from ISL to win the lucrative contract.

The trio are current members of the FIFA executive committee which will decide on Thursday which countries host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. All have denied any wrongdoing but neither they nor FIFA were available on Monday for comment on the latest allegations based on what the BBC said was a confidential ISL document which detailed 175 secret payments between 1989 and 1999. Similar allegations were first made against them in a book written by the presenter of Monday’s program, British investigative reporter Andrew Jennings.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in a statement issued by the BBC on Monday that no FIFA officials had been accused of any criminal offense during a 2008 inquiry and court hearing into the ISL collapse.

Blatter has recently criticized British media entrapment in claiming corruption within his organization, although two members were suspended earlier this month following allegations of wrongdoing made by the Sunday Times.

A fourth member of FIFA’s executive committee, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, vice president, had attempted to break FIFA rules over the sale of 2010 World Cup tickets “but the deal subsequently fell through,” according to Panorama.

Andy Anson, the head of the English bid to stage the 2018 World Cup, said earlier on Monday in Zurich that he feared the new Panorama allegations would damage their chances.

“Of course I’m disappointed with the timing and it’s certainly not going to win any votes,” Anson told reporters. “We just have to see what happens tonight and move on. I won’t be watching it; I’ve got other things to do.”

England is bidding to stage the finals, for the second time, in 2018 against Russia, Spain and Portugal (one bid), and the Netherlands and Belgium (one bid). FIFA will announce the winners, and the hosts in 2022, on Thursday at its headquarters in Zurich.

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