Another Fifa favours for World Cup votes row

Lord Triesman, the former chairperson of England’s Football Association, has reignited the row over allegations of corruption at the heart of football’s governing body by accusing four leading members of Fifa of seeking bribes to back England’s bid for the 2018 World Cup.

Triesman, the former chairperson of England’s 2018 bid, told a parliamentary committee that four members of Fifa’s executive were guilty of “improper and unethical behaviour” in the early stages of the bid.

He accused controversial Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) president Jack Warner of asking for £2,5-million to build a school and offices in Trinidad at a meeting in a London hotel in October 2009, intimating that the money should be paid through him.

Warner later requested £500 000 for a scheme to buy up World Cup television rights and air the tournament on big screens for the islanders of Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, claimed Triesman. Again, he was told the money should be routed through him.

“[Warner] believed that if he had the sum of half a million pounds sent to him, he could secure those rights. I told him it was out of the question. Some time later it was put to me that he was actually the owner of those rights,” said Triesman.

Warner said the allegations were “a piece of nonsense”. “I’ve never asked Triesman nor any other person, Englishman or otherwise, for any money for my vote at any time.”

Triesman, who was forced to stand down last May as the result of a newspaper sting, said that at another meeting, with Paraguayan Fifa executive Nicolas Leoz in Ascuncion, it was suggested that Triesman secure Leoz a knighthood in return for his vote.

Triesman said he was guided to a display cabinet in which there were copies of honours he had received and photos of streets named after him. Through a translator, Leoz, the head of South American football, told Triesman he didn’t want cash, but a knighthood “would be appropriate”.

Later Triesman said he met the head of the Brazilian football federation, Ricardo Teixeira, in Qatar. Speaking after Brazil had beaten England in a friendly, when Triesman said he was looking forward to meeting then president Lula da Silva, he was told: “Lula is nothing. You come and tell me what you have for me.”

Teixeira and Leoz were also named by the BBC Panorama documentary that went out on the eve of the World Cup vote as among those implicated in taking bribes from a sports marketing company in the 1990s.

Triesman claimed that a fourth approach was made during negotiations about England playing a friendly against Thailand with Fifa executive committee member Worawi Makudi. Triesman said he insisted on acquiring the TV rights to the mooted game. “That was what he believed was the critical thing to making the arrangement a success.”

New evidence submitted to the committee by the UK Sunday Times from a whistle-blower within Qatar’s successful campaign for the 2022 World Cup alleged two other Fifa executive committee members — Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of Côte d’Ivoire – had accepted payments of $1.5million in return for their vote.

The revelations mean a third of Fifa’s 24 executive committee members have now been accused of impropriety in the run-up to last year’s World Cup vote. —

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Owen Gibson
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