FIFA widened its probe into alleged World Cup bidding corruption on Monday after a former leading administrator reportedly claimed two candidates have colluded to trade votes. FIFA said it has "immediately requested to receive all ... potential evidence," from Britain's Sunday Times newspaper regarding its reporting of comments from Michel Zen-Ruffinen, who was general secretary of football's world governing body for four years until 2002.
Zen-Ruffinen was secretly filmed saying Spain-Portugal and Qatar have struck a deal giving each seven votes from the 24-man FIFA executive committee which is choosing World Cup hosts in December. Spain-Portugal want to host in 2018 and Qatar is a 2022 candidate. Both need 13 votes to guarantee victory under existing rules. "So they start with seven (votes) which ... was not expected by the other candidates. And this is not just a rumor, that's fact," Zen-Ruffinen was quoted as saying to undercover reporters who posed as lobbyists claiming to work on behalf of one bidder. FIFA said it will refer the evidence to its ethics committee which last week officially launched an investigation into alleged illegal collusion between bidders, which it did not name. Officials from the Spain-Portugal and Qatar bids have not confirmed they are being investigated, while Portuguese federation president Gilberto Madail dismissed the allegations last week. "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 said in a statement.
"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."
The ethics panel also is investigating two current and four former members of FIFA's ruling executive following Sunday Times allegations that the bidding process was shrouded by corruption. Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii from Tahiti were filmed seeming to offer their votes in exchange for funding for football projects.