Fifa to stick with World Cup vote

Secret ballot to pick hosts for 2018 and 2022 football tournaments to go ahead as scheduled despite bribery inquiry.

    Blatter says the decision to combine the two World Cups bidding process may have been a mistake [GALLO/GETTY]

    Fifa will go ahead with the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding votes on December 2, despite an ongoing inquiry into alleged bribery and collusion.

    Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, said on Friday the vote will proceed ahead as scheduled, but acknowledged that it may have been a mistake to combine the two World Cups into one bidding process.

    Fifa hoped to improve its financial strategy if sponsors and media rights holders bought a two-tournament package, but the tactic appears to have created more opportunities for corruption.

    "I am not convinced now that it was the right decision," he announced in Zurich after a two-day executive committee meeting.

    Fifa's executive committee will select the hosts for both tournaments by secret ballot in the Swiss city.

    "There was never a question of changing anything in the procedure," Blatter said.

    Alleged vote selling
    Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti, two executive committee members, are currently suspended after being accused of offering to sell their votes.

    Fifa's ethics committee is to rule on both cases on November 17. The panel also is investigating Spain-Portugal and Qatar for alleged vote-trading.

    Vying for the 2018 World Cup are England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Holland. The 2012 candidates are Qatar, the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

    Delaying the vote could have disrupted bidders' plans to bring politicians and football greats for the final presentation to Fifa's ruling panel on December 2 - the climax of more than two years of campaigning and lobbying which has already cost millions of dollars.

    A delay would also have created problems for the Asian Football Confederation. Asia has a January 6 congress in Doha, Qatar, where three of its four Fifa executive seats are up for election.

    One is certain to change because 72-year-old Junji Ogura of Japan has passed the AFC age limit.

    Temarii's bid for re-election as Oceania president is scheduled for January, and Adamu would have to defend his Fifa seat at the African football congress in February.

    Both Temarii and Adamu could yet be barred from World Cup voting after undercover reporters from the London Sunday Times secretly filmed them asking for money for football projects.

    Ethics report awaited

    The UK newspaper later released video footage of Michel Zen-Ruffinen, a former Fifa general secretary, saying Spain-Portugal and Qatar have struck a deal giving each seven votes.

    The Iberian neighbours deny the claim, and Qatar officials have not confirmed they are being investigated. The ethics panel will publish its findings after a three-day meeting next month.

    On that same day, several countries connected to bids and voters face each other in international friendlies with opportunities for last-minute lobbying.

    Qatar will host a Brazil-Argentina game in Doha, Australia plays Egypt in Cairo and Russia faces Belgium in Voronezh. Portugal also plays Spain in Lisbon.

    Fifa's executive committee agreed on Friday on rules for the vote. The winner needs an absolute majority, with candidates who poll the fewest votes in each round eliminated until a result emerges.

    Voting at FIFA headquarters will be monitored by a Swiss lawyer and consultants KPMG. Results will be sealed and taken to a conference center in downtown Zurich for the announcement ceremony.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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