FIFA Members Sought Favors for World Cup Votes, England’s Triesman Alleges
Four FIFA executive board members sought favors from the English Football Association in exchange for their votes for the country to host the 2018 World Cup, former F.A. Chairman David Triesman said.
Speaking to a parliamentary committee looking into the bidding process, Triesman alleged Jack Warner, a FIFA vice president from Trinidad & Tobago, Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira, Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz and Thailand’s Worawi Makudi engaged in “improper and unethical” behavior before Russia was chosen in December as host of the 2018 tournament.
“These were some of the things that were put on me personally, which in my view did not represent proper and ethical behavior on the part of the members of the executive committee,” Triesman told the Culture, Media and Sports Committee. The F.A. runs English soccer.
Warner didn’t answer his mobile telephone. Calls to the Thai soccer association after hours went unanswered. Brazil’s soccer confederation, known as CBF, didn’t return a voice-mail message seeking comment. Nicolas Leoz, the president of the South American soccer confederation, known as Conmebol, won’t comment, said association spokesman Nestor Benitez.
“I cannot say if they are all angels or all devils,” FIFA President Sepp Blatter said at a press conference today in Zurich. “If this is true, I will fight it.”
Blatter will learn on June 1 if FIFA’s members will elect him for a fourth term or favor challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam, of Qatar, who heads soccer in Asia and lobbied for his home nation to get the World Cup.
The 75-year-old Blatter, who’s been with FIFA for 36 years, said he couldn’t say whether the rest of FIFA’s board was clean. Blatter doesn’t select committee members. They’re sent to FIFA by soccer’s six regional bodies.
The committee also received evidence from the Sunday Times newspaper, which it published on Parliament’s website, that Qatar paid $1.5 million to African soccer head Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast to vote for its winning bid to host the 2022 World Cup, lawmaker Damian Collins said.
The Qatar Football Association denied the allegations, which it called serious and baseless.
“As The Sunday Times itself states, these accusations ‘were and remain unproven,’” the Qatar Football Association said in an e-mailed statement. “They will remain unproven, because they are false.”
Qatar officials said they told FIFA as soon as they were informed of the allegations and offered full support for any investigations into the matter.
‘Nothing to Hide’
“We have nothing to hide and are prepared to support and cooperate with any further investigations and will be happy to counter any allegations from whistleblowers with real evidence,” the association’s statement said.
Triesman resigned as F.A. chief a year ago after being secretly taped saying Spain and Portugal had agreed to share votes with Qatar, the Gulf nation that was the surprise selection to host in 2022. He wasn’t involved in England’s final bid, which only garnered two votes.
He told the committee Warner asked for 2.5 million pounds ($4.1 million), that would be “funneled” through him, to build an educational center in Trinidad. He also asked for a further 500,000 pounds to buy Haiti World Cup television rights for the earthquake-hit nation, which would also go through him, Triesman said.
Sky Sports reported Warner as saying the allegations are “a piece of nonsense.”
“I have never asked anyone for any money for my vote at any time,” Sky quoted Warner as saying. “I have been a FIFA member for 29 years and these allegations will astound anyone who knows me, including David Dein and Geoff Thompson.”
Thompson headed England’s failed 2018 bid and former Arsenal vice chairman Dein was its international president.
Triesman said that Leoz asked for a knighthood and Makudi wanted to be given the television rights to an exhibition match between England and the Thai national team. Teixeira also asked Triesman to “come and tell me what you have for me.”
FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said in Zurich that he didn’t understand why Triesman didn’t send evidence to FIFA before if he had it.
Triesman told the committee he didn’t report the incidents to FIFA out of fear it would damage England’s bid, but admitted he should have.
“In retrospect that wasn’t the right view to take and I accept that,” he told the committee.
Current English F.A. CEO Alex Horne said in an interview in Zurich that the organization would ask the committee for all its evidence and send it to FIFA. He said it was “too early to speculate” if the English body would call for the World Cup vote to be taken again.
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