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FIFA’s Valcke Issues Warning on Collusion Over World Cup Bids

Countries bidding to host soccer’s World Cup in 2018 or 2022 have been warned to stick to the rules after speculation about voting collusion reached the sport’s governing body.

“We will send reminders on the rules and conduct via our ethics committee,” FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, the organization’s second-highest executive, said in an e-mail sent to Bloomberg today.

FIFA’s 24-member executive will decide in December where sports’ most-watched event will be staged after Brazil in 2014. Until then nine bidders are spending millions of dollars traveling the world lobbying for support.

“Rumors” of vote-sharing between a European bidder for the 2018 tournament and a candidate for the 2022 event have been heard by FIFA, Valcke said. Soliciting single votes or block votes from rival bidders isn’t allowed.

Bidders “are prohibited from entering into any kind of agreement with any other member association or bid committee as regards to the behavior during the bid process,” FIFA’s rules state.

Four European candidates -- England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Holland-Belgium -- are competing with the U.S. to host the 2018 edition. The U.S. is also a candidate for the 2022 race where Qatar, Australia, Japan and South Korea are bidding.

“There are a lot of rumors around 18/22,” Valcke said in the e-mail. “But I think we are monitoring efficiently what is done by the nine bidders, and we will also inform our executive committee members again at our next meeting in October about such rumors on vote-sharing and their responsibility.”

Earlier this month a group of FIFA technical inspectors completed a tour of all the candidate countries by visiting Qatar, which is hoping to become the first Middle East host of the World Cup.

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