One of the two Fifa officials at the heart of the World Cup cash-for-votes scandal is considering legal action in an effort to clear his name but says he doesn't blame England after being temporarily thrown out of football's world governing body.
As England 2018 officials head for Zurich this week for the latest series of private meetings with voting members of Fifa's executive committee, Tahiti's Reynald Temarii is flying the other way to consult lawyers after being caught up in a newspaper sting which got him provisionally suspended along with Amos Adamu of Nigeria.
Both have been barred from all football-related activities until a final hearing in mid-November which should determine whether the double vote for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will go ahead as planned on 2 December.
Both have strongly pleaded their innocence, insisting they will be exonerated once Fifa's ethics committee hear their side of the story. Other senior Fifa members are not so sure, pointing to the possibility that the vote could end up being taken by a reduced committee of 22 instead of 24.
Temarii, the head of the Oceania confederation, says his comments in last weekend's Sunday Times were taken out of context and is now deciding whether to sue. "I am consulting with lawyers, in England and in France," Temarii told The Independent on Sunday. "Where I come from, we don't do these kind of things.
"I'm not at all surprised at being suspended. It was necessary to show that Fifa is a clean organisation but the ethics committee have not yet had time to read and hear the evidence I've provided. What is important is to restore my integrity in front of the world, and I will fight to do that."
One net result of Temarii and Adamu being suspended is that bidding candidates are suddenly being forced to re-work their strategies.
Temarii is highly regarded by the England camp while Adamu is one of four African Fifa voting members whose support is so precious since Africa is the only continent without a bidding candidate. Their respective fates on 17 November are now likely to overshadow the publication of Fifa's inspection reports, due out at roughly the same time.
Temarii insists he does not hold England's bid responsible for the Sunday Times expose and hinted he could well vote for them if he is re-instated. "All the bidding countries I have dealt with have been entirely scrupulous," he said. "I have enormous respect for the English bid. I have had several meetings with all the bidders and the world has to know they are all clean. Since 2007, I have said my vote is a vote for my confederation, not for me. That will remain the same if I am re-instated." Such comments will not be lost on England's bid committee, who are playing a canny game of silence as the fall-out grows.
Potentially even more serious than the suspensions is Fifa's investigation into alleged collusion between Qatar, a contender for 2022, and Spain-Portugal, one of England's main rivals for 2018.
Both candidates are furious with Fifa's ethics committee for examining rumours of vote-trading between the pair. Such antics are forbidden but it is unclear to what extent – if any – they are supposed to have broken Fifa's code of conduct. Qatar are believed to have asked for clarification while Gilberto Madail, head of the Portuguese federation, decided to go public.
"We categorically deny making any agreement or alliance with another bid on the voting to decide the hosting of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups," he said. "We received with surprise and indignation the analysis that Fifa's ethics committee may conduct on a rumour circulated in September in the English media about an alleged deal between the Iberian and the Qatari bids for hosting the World Cup."
Despite Madail's denial, an ethics committee member revealed last night that the investigation is ongoing.Reuse content