England starts corruption probe

Updated: May 12, 2011, 7:37 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- England's Football Association is opening its own investigation into claims of FIFA corruption during the bidding for the 2018 World Cup.

FA chairman David Bernstein says the body has hired a lawyer to look into allegations of ethical misconduct by four FIFA executive committee members during England's failed bid.

Former FA chairman David Triesman told a British parliamentary hearing on Tuesday that the behavior of the four FIFA officials was "improper and unethical."

The FA has already agreed to send any evidence to FIFA, but the English body wants its own independent inquiry.

Bernstein announced the appointment of lawyer James Dingemans to head the probe. He says that, like FIFA's own inquiry, the outcome should be revealed before the FIFA presidential election on June 1.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is seeking re-election against challenger Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar.

"If Lord Triesman's allegations can't be supported they will die a death because unsupported allegations will not take anyone very far," Bernstein said in a briefing at Wembley Stadium. "Like any quasi-legal process you need evidence. If the allegations are to stick with FIFA ... they need to be supported.

"We want to come up with the truth and verifiable facts. Lord Triesman has had a great career as chairman of the FA and is a man of honor. He's made his allegations. No doubt they can be sustained but whether they can be sustained with proper evidence or not we will have to see."

Triesman -- a member of the House of Lords -- made the allegations about CONCACAF President Jack Warner, Nicolas Leoz, Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi to the British parliament's Culture, Media and Sport committee.

Warner, Leoz and Teixeira have denied the allegations. Makudi hasn't commented.

"The allegations made by Lord Triesman were extremely serious," Britain's sports minister, Hugh Robertson, told The Associated Press. "The difficult thing was always going to be to provide the evidence to back them up.

"The really sensible thing about this is to get an independent and authoritative expert ... to look at all the evidence, to review it with his expertise and on the basis of that to put a full and independent report to FIFA."

If the allegations are proven by the inquiry, Robertson will take up the matter with fellow European sports ministers.

"What we want to do is wait to see what Mr. Dingemans comes up with and if he has seen real evidence that gives me a much stronger hand to play," Robertson said. "I suspect the most appropriate way of dealing with this is through the forum of EU sports ministers, but one of the problems at the moment is that we have a mass of allegations and no proof behind them."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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