Bribery scam mars World Cup

2010-10-24 11:53

African football authorities this week threw a veil of secrecy around the scandal to sell World Cup votes that resulted in no less than five top officials being ­suspended by Fifa.

The Fifa Ethics Committee suspended executive committee members Nigerian Dr Amos Adamu and Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) president Reynald Temarii.

The Sunday Times in London ­alleged it covertly filmed Temarii­ ­demanding $2.3 million (about R15.9million) from reporters posing as lobbyists for an unnamed country to set up a sports academy in Auckland in return for his support and Adamu asking for $800 000 (about R5.5 million) to give his vote to one of the countries ­bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Much as he said the money would be used to erect artificial football pitches in Nigeria, Adamu is said to have insisted that it be deposited directly into his personal bank account.

Fifa was reported to have later provisionally suspended three other top African officials – Slim Aloulou of ­Tunisia, Amadou Diakite of Mali, ­Ismael Bhamjee of Botswana as well as ­Tonga Football Association general secretary Ahongalu Fusimalohi – over the same issue.

“The decision to provisionally suspend these officials is fully justified and should not be put in question,” Fifa ethics committee chairperson Claudio Sulser was quoted as saying.

“It is crucial to protect the integrity of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process. We are determined to have zero tolerance for any breach in the code of ethics.”

The Fifa executive committee – led by president Sepp Blatter – will sit in Zurich on December 2 to listen to presentations by the bidding nations and then make a pronouncement on the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.

Blatter said: “We have to fight for respect and especially we have to fight that the people here in charge of Fifa behave as they should do. Our society is full of devils and these devils you find them in football.”

The scandal broke just as the continent was shocked by reports that Caf president Issa Hayatou had collapsed in Cairo last week.

Attempts to draw comment from officals from the continental football governing body proved to be as impossible as trying to squeeze water from a rock.

“I don’t want to comment about that,” Caf spokesperson Suleiman ­Habuba said on Friday evening.

All he could say was that Hayatou – who has been Caf president for 23 years and has indicated that he will run in 2013 for another four-year term – had been admitted to a Cairo ­hospital but was now “out of hospital and doing well”.

Attempts to get comment from acting Caf secretary general Hichem El Amrani, who recently took over from Mustapha Fahmy – also drew a blank as his mobile went unanswered.

“It will be improper for me to comment on this issue,” said former Safa president Molefi Oliphant, who is a Caf vice-president.

“I think the Caf president is the one who should issue a statement on such matters.”

Safa president, Kirsten ­Nematandani yesterday said: “It will be unwise to say anything at the moment. It is better to let the process run its course and only comment once it is done. For now, these are allegations that ­haven’t been proven to be right or wrong.”

SuperSport.com reported that all Mike Umeh, first vice-president of the Nigeria Football Federation, could say when approached, was: “Oh my God.

Have they suspended him? It is unfortunate and sad not only for Adamu but for Nigeria.”

Two other Nigerian soccer officials – ­Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima and Alhaji Aminu Maigari – declined to comment.

The Oceania Football Confederation issued a terse statement on Thursday in reaction to Fifa’s decision to suspend two of its most senior officials, Temarii and Fusimalohi.

The statement read: “In alignment with the provisional decisions taken by the Fifa ethics committee today in Zurich, Switzerland, OFC will take time to absorb the information and make no comment until further ­notice.”

Temarii sits on the Fifa executive committee and has a vote in determining which country hosts the World Cup.

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