FIFA are on the defensive again today, after yet another tidal wave of allegations concerning the corruption of their World Cup bidding system broke across their bow yesterday afternoon.
Football’s governing body have vowed to look into fresh claims made by Michel Zen-Ruffinen in yesterday’s Sunday Times, wherein their former secretary-general seemed adamant that he could identify numerous executive committee members that were open to selling their votes for both money and/or women.
Zen-Ruffinen also claimed that rumours of the Spain-Portugal and Qatar teams indulging in a light spot of casual vote swapping in their respective bids to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were indeed “a fact”.
Once again, The Times supported their report with secretly-filmed footage of Zen-Ruffinen being approached by undercover reporters posing as lobbyists for an entirely fictional third-party.
The Swiss lawyer, who was forced out of FIFA back in 2002 after accusing president Sepp Blatter of flagrant mismanagement, named two executive committee members which he believed “could be bought”, then described a further two members – calling the first “the kind of guy you can buy with the ladies and not with money”, and the second “the biggest gangster you will find on earth” who’s minimum bribe he believed to be somewhere in the region of $500,000 (£319,000).
During the filming, Zen-Ruffinen also offered to work as a ‘fixer’ for the lobbyists, but later told the paper that he had only offered to “make introductions” and that he was “totally against bribery” of any sort.
FIFA’s executive committee, along with the nine bid teams (including England) involved in the voting, will now discuss the developments when they arrive in Zurich for the International Football Arena conference – with the executive committee then laying out the redrafted rules which they intend to enforce to govern the actual vote on December 2nd.
The latest torrent of bulls*t comes days after FIFA provisionally suspended the two members of it’s executive committee that the Sunday Times caught trying to sell their votes in return for the funding of ‘personal projects’.
Again using undercover reporters, the Times attended meetings posing as lobbyists representing an American sporting consortium who were keen on ‘ensuring’ extra votes for the U.S World Cup bid. During the faux encounters both Amos Adamu (FIFA’s Nigerian executive committee member) and Reynald Temarii (president of the Oceania Football Confederation) both allegedly asked for considerable payment in return.
As mentioned, Adamu and Temarii have both been suspended (along with four other executives that have since become mired in the rife allegations), whilst FIFA’s laughably monikered ‘Ethics committee’ investigates the claims made by the newspaper.
However, last week the Ethics committee chairman, Claudio Sulser, said that no disciplinary proceedings had been actioned against any other individual executive committee members apart from Adamu and Temarii.
Regarding Zen-Ruffinen’s claims, FIFA released the following short statement:
“FIFA has immediately requested to receive all the documents and potential evidence that the newspaper has in relation to this matter, and will in any case analyze the material available.
FIFA and the Ethics committee are committed to have zero tolerance for any breach of the Code of Ethics and the Bid Registration. FIFA and the ethics committee are determined to protect the integrity of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.”
A noble sentiment but, alas, I’d wager that it’s a smidge too late for FIFA to preserve any shreds of their integrity.