FIFA prez: Collusion can't be avoided

Updated: November 19, 2010, 12:06 PM ET
Associated Press

ZURICH -- Less than two weeks before the selection of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, the head of soccer's governing body said Friday that collusion among voters was inevitable but he expects no more corruption cases.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter stressed that his 22-man executive committee understood the scrutiny facing the group before the Dec. 2 vote in Zurich.

Blatter insisted the verdicts of an ethics investigation meant the secret ballot at FIFA headquarters can proceed with "all doubts cast aside." On Thursday, two voters and four other officials were suspended and Qatar and Spain-Portugal were cleared of striking a votes deal.

"Now we go ahead and [the vote] will be good," Blatter said after an emergency session of the executive committee.

Blatter, however, did not dispel suggestions that a Qatari-Iberian pact alleged by a British newspaper was in place, instead stating that FIFA's ethics committee could not prove it.

"They had not enough evidence. They haven't said it's 'blanco,' " he said, using a word meaning whiter than white. "You cannot avoid collusion but if in such collusion there should be something wrong, then naturally somebody would intervene."

Blatter said it was obvious his executive committee colleagues discussed the contests because eight of the 22 eligible voters represent candidates. England, Russia, Belgium-Holland and Spain-Portugal are competing to host the 2018 World Cup. The 2022 contest involves the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar.

But he said they "heard and understood" his message that the entire world was watching FIFA.

"It has to do mainly with the commitment of these governments who have made a huge effort to represent their bids and make a personal effort to be present here," Blatter said.

Former President Bill Clinton and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are expected to help present their country's case on Dec. 1-2. England is to send Prince William, David Beckham and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Deflecting the focus from corruption in soccer, Blatter playfully hinted at collusion involving Cameron, who leads a coalition government.

"They are enemies during the year then when it comes to fight another [political] party, then they come together. That is collusion. This has not been banned," the FIFA leader said.

Blatter revealed that former FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen was declared "persona non grata" at Friday's meeting for making the vote-trading pact allegation to The Sunday Times. Another former employee quoted by the newspaper, Michel Bacchini, also was no longer welcome.

He confirmed that suspended voters Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii will not be replaced by their continental confederations because both men are appealing their sanctions.

Nigeria's Adamu drew a three-year ban from all soccer activity for five violations of FIFA's ethics code, including agreeing to take bribes from the undercover reporters who posed as lobbyists trying to buy votes.

Reynald Temarii of Tahiti, the president of Oceania's confederation, was suspended for one year for breaching FIFA's loyalty and confidentiality rules when he was secretly filmed in the newspaper sting.

Four former FIFA executive committee members also were suspended for a total of 12 years based on bribery allegations published by the newspaper.

Slim Aloulou, a Tunisian lawyer who chaired FIFA's disputes panel, received a two-year sanction. FIFA referees committee member Amadou Diakite of Mali and Ahongalu Fusimalohi from Tonga were suspended for three years, and Botswana's Ismail Bhamjee got a four-year ban.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE