FIFA formally asks for corruption evidence

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FIFA formally asks for corruption evidence

GENEVA - Facing a deepening corruption scandal, FIFA demanded evidence Wednesday to back up English claims that six executive committee members were involved in bribery during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, meanwhile, promised to resolve the crisis before he comes up for re-election on June 1. “We have to do it now immediately. We have exactly three weeks to do so,” Blatter said in an interview with Qatar-based network Al Jazeera.

Blatter is seeking a fourth and final four-year term against Qatari challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam, who was a central figure in his country’s victorious - and controversial - bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

Following Tuesday’s allegations made during a British Parliamentary inquiry, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke wrote to England’s Football Association asking for a complete report plus “all documentary evidence’’ from David Triesman, the former leader of England’s 2018 bid.

Triesman told British lawmakers that four long-standing FIFA officials - Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi - requested bribes in the 2018 bidding.

Lawmakers were also told in a submission from The Sunday Times that Qatar paid $1.5 million to two more FIFA officials, Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma, in the 2022 contest. Qatar won the vote, beating the United States in the final round.

FIFA said it has asked the newspaper for more evidence of information it received from a whistle-blower within Qatar’s bid.

Valcke requested detailed evidence in order to “examine the situation thoroughly and with clear-sightedness,” FIFA said.

As FIFA’s top administrator, responsibility falls on Valcke to ask FIFA’s ethics court to open official investigations. A previous FIFA ethics probe based on a Sunday Times investigation threw the 2018 and 2022 bid races into chaos during the final weeks of campaigning before the December vote.

Two members of FIFA’s executive committee, Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, were barred from voting for their part in corruption allegations.

Blatter said Wednesday that the past experience would help FIFA deal with the latest scandal, which means that one third of the 24-man executive committee has been implicated in World Cup bid corruption claims.

“It is not the first time and we know how to react now,’’ Blatter said. “Once we have the evidence then we can decide where we go, if we go, in the investigation - an administrative investigation or directly to the ethics committee.’’

FIFA said Valcke has asked English football officials to provide Parliamentary records of Triesman’s testimony. It also questioned why the newspaper’s latest allegations were not provided with other material submitted last October for the previous ethics probe.

“In particular, reference is made in the letter to the allegations regarding a ‘whistle-blower who had worked with the Qatar bid,’ who allegedly made some declarations,’’ FIFA said.

The Qatar football federation has denied paying Hayatou and Anouma, calling the allegations “wholly unreliable.” Hayatou, the president of the Confederation of African Football, “categorically denies” the claims, the African body said Wednesday.

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