Jacques Rogge calls for corruption fight

GENEVA -- Sports leaders must fight against corruption to prevent the type of bribery scandal shaking soccer's world governing body, IOC president Jacques Rogge said Wednesday.

Rogge told The Associated Press that English allegations about six senior FIFA officials -- a quarter of the 24-person executive committee -- receiving or demanding bribes for their World Cup votes hurt sports around the world.

The International Olympic Committee leader called on sports bodies to work "on both fronts" to tackle corruption on and off the field.

"We have to fight against that. We have absolutely to make sure that sport on the management level is clean and also sport on the athletic level is clean," Rogge said at a United Nations conference on achieving peace through sports.

"In terms of the champions, there is always the threat of doping. In terms of management of sport, there is the threat of unethical practices."

Rogge stressed that claims made of FIFA corruption during a British parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday must be backed "by solid proof."

The IOC has asked for its ethics commission to receive any evidence of wrongdoing by FIFA vice president and IOC member Issa Hayatou.

Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast allegedly were paid $1.5 million to vote for 2022 candidate Qatar, according to evidence submitted to the British Parliament by The Sunday Times newspaper. Qatar won the vote, beating the United States in the final round.

The Qatar soccer federation denied the allegations, calling them "wholly unreliable."

Hayatou, the president of the Confederation of African Football, "categorically denies" the claims, the African body said Wednesday.

The IOC dealt with its own bribery scandal in 1999, with 10 members expelled or forced to resign over allegations of vote-buying during Salt Lake City's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who's also an IOC member, was not accused of corruption in the British Parliamentary hearing and asked for evidence to be sent to the FIFA ethics committee, promising immediate action if wrongdoing could be proved.

Blatter has made zero tolerance of corruption a central theme of his June 1 re-election contest against Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam, and put distance between himself and those under suspicion.

"I cannot say they are all angels or they are all devils," Blatter said. "It is my government, but my government is not designated by the president. They are coming from the [confederations]."

Bin Hammam played a key role in delivering the 2022 World Cup to his homeland of Qatar.

"FIFA is not corrupted," the Asian Football Confederation president said. "We are victims of the popularity of the game."

The parliamentary inquiry also was told of "improper and unethical" conduct by Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi in the 2018 contest won by Russia. The claims were made by David Triesman, the former head of England's bid.

Warner, a FIFA vice president from Trinidad and Tobago, dismissed Triesman's allegations, saying he "laughed like hell" when he heard them Tuesday.

"I never asked anybody for anything," Warner told the Trinidad newspaper Newsday. "When these guys [England] came here, we promised to help. I showed them a place where they can put a playground. They promised to come back but they never did."

Warner believes that England is bitter after gaining just two votes in the 2018 contest -- one from its own representative on the executive committee.

"How come not even one person from Europe voted for them?" Warner told the newspaper. "And they're looking for all different reasons. Why don't they, in a dispassionate way, sit down and ask why not one European voted for them?"

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke questioned why the claims -- which included incidents said to have occurred from 2009 -- were not reported earlier. The votes in December proceeded with a 22-man FIFA ruling panel after Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii were suspended following a Sunday Times investigation.

"If it was known, why has it not come to our attention? We have called and asked people to let us know whatever you have in this process," Valcke said.

Asked if the World Cup votes should be reopened, Valcke said the process had been conducted cleanly and all known evidence was examined.

British sports minister Hugh Robertson said he had discussed the possibility of England breaking away from FIFA along with other countries.

"I have taken the temperature from other football associations around the world, particularly we did that in the wake of the 2018 bid," Robertson told the BBC. "At the moment there is a desire to try to work to change FIFA from the inside. If FIFA is unable to do that then I would say all options are possible.

"But at the moment we very much want to work with them and try to convince them they need to go through exactly the same process that the IOC went through in the post-Salt Lake city process."