Fresh claims in World Cup 'scandal'

Ex-Fifa general secretary identifies officials he says could take money in return for votes to host tournament.

    The Sunday Times has published new allegations of a Fifa vote-selling scandal in the race to host the World Cup [AFP]

    A former general secretary of football's World Governing body Fifa is at the centre of fresh claims about corruption in the bidding process for the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.

    Michel Zen-Ruffinen, the former right-hand man of Fifa president Sepp Blatter, was reported by the British Sunday Times newpaper to have identified officials he said were open to bribery in return for votes to decide which countries should host the tournaments.

    The paper published secretly-shot footage of Zen-Ruffinen on Sunday, a week after the first part of their undercover investigation led to the suspension of two members of Fifa's executive committee, which will decide the hosting of the biggest event in sport.

    Zen-Ruffinen, 51, ran through a list of the names - bleeped out on the footage and not revealed by the Sunday Times - with undercover reporters who were posing as lobbyists.

    "X is nice, he's a nice guy, but X is money," he is shown saying of one man, adding of another: "X, it's money; we can go to (a city) and talk with him on a terrace no problem."

    Of a third unnamed figure, he said: "He's the guy you can have with ladies and not with money."

    Secretly filmed

    The comments were captured when the journalists secretly filmed their conversation during a meal with Zen-Ruffinen in Geneva, the paper said.

    The story is the latest development in a furore over alleged World Cup vote-selling before the announcement of the winning host countries for 2018 and 2022 on December 2.

    Last week, the Sunday Times reported that two members of the Fifa executive committee, Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii, who represented the Oceania region, had offered to sell their votes in the race for the 2018 World Cup.

    Fifa later provisionally suspended them pending a full investigation. Four other senior officials were also suspended provisionally from any football-related activity.

    Zen-Ruffinen, a Swiss lawyer, was reportedly available for arranging approaches to officials by interested parties.

    In comments quoted by the paper, he said he was "totally against" bribery and had only offered to make introductions.

    In the secret footage, he says: "I would never play this game but there are people who are like that."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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