|Spain, the World Cup winners in 2010, are making a joint bid with Portugal for the 2018 tournament [File: EPA]|
The ethics committee of world football’s governing body is holding a three-day meeting in Switzerland to discuss corruption allegations surrounding the bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Led by lawyer and former Swiss striker, Claudio Sulser, the committee in investigating two executive committee members and two bidding nations.
Corruption allegations emerged when the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper published secretly filmed interviews with Fifa officials, suggesting that they would be open to selling their votes in the bidding process.
The two men being investigated over the allegations are Reynald Temarii, the Tahitian president of Oceania’s confederation, and Amos Adamu, an executive committee member and a former director general of the Nigerian Sports Commission.
Temarii, who has been suspended from his role as Fifa’s vice-president, remains adamant he will be vindicated, telling The Associated Press news agency: “I have no doubt that I will vote on December 2.”
He insists the undercover interviews were ‘grossly manipulated’ and edited to make him appear corrupt.
The committee could bar the two officials from taking part in the vote if it finds they have committed any offence.
A former colleague of current Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, was also shown in the videos recorded by the newspaper. Michel Zen-Ruffinen is heard telling reporters, posing as lobbyists, how Qatar and Spain-Portugal had already sewn up seven of the 24 votes needed to secure the tournament.
Mohamed Bin Hammam, the Asian Confederation president, has vehemently denied the claims of collusion between his native Qatar, a 2022 bidder, and 2018 contenders Spain-Portugal.
Witnesses at an October meeting of Fifa’s executive committee reported seeing a note being passed between Angel Maria Villar, Spain-Portugal’s bid leader, and Bin Hammam which read: “Congratulations, we’re going to win.”
Bin Hammam has denied this, having told a Swiss television channel: “I can bet you [that] you will never see any proof.”
Fifa has not confirmed the identity of the bidders it is investigating.
The European contest for 2018 is between England, Russia and the joint bids of Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal. The 2022 race involves the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar.
Blatter sees the ethics court as a form of redemption for the now controversial Fifa committee, claiming the hearing will “bring back credibility to football” before the decision on host nations is announced on December 2.
The ethics committee will also hear cases against four former Fifa executive committee members who are currently under provisional suspension from their footballing duties. Mali’s Amadou Diakite, Tonga’s Ahongalu Fusmalohi, Botswana’s Ismail Bhamjee and Tunisian lawyer Slim Aloulou, have all allegedly advised undercover journalists how to bribe Fifa voters.
Blatter has arranged an emergency session for his executive group on Friday to address the final outcome of the ethics court.