Demands for bribes killed World Cup bid, says ex-FA boss

 

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Four members of the international football governing body sought "bribes" in return for backing England's failed 2018 World Cup bid, the former chairman of the Football Association claimed yesterday.

Lord Triesman said representatives from Brazil, Paraguay, Trinidad and Thailand asked for favours in exchange for voting for England to get the football tournament – including one who wanted a knighthood.

The latest developments mean eight Fifa executive committee members – one third of the total of 24 – have either been alleged to have been or already found guilty of impropriety in relation to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

Giving evidence for the first time on the allegations to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Lord Triesman alleged that:

* The Fifa vice-president Jack Warner asked for around £2.5m to build an education centre in Trinidad, with the cash to be channelled through him. He also asked for a £500,000 charitable donation to buy Haiti's World Cup TV rights so matches could be shown free in the earthquake-hit nation. It was later alleged that he owned the rights himself;

* Paraguay's Fifa member Nicolas Leoz asked for a knighthood in return for his backing. Lord Triesman said he had been told through a translator that Mr Leoz had no need for money;

* Brazil's Fifa member Ricardo Teixeira told Lord Triesman that President Lula's potential support for the England bid amounted to "nothing" and that he should "Come and tell me what you have got for me".

* Thailand's Fifa member Worawi Makudi wanted to be given the TV rights to a friendly between England and the Thai national team – although this was never directly linked by him to the England bid.

The committee also heard that two more Fifa executive committee members were paid nearly £1m to vote for Qatar's bid. The Conservative MP Damian Collins stated that evidence submitted by The Sunday Times claimed that the Fifa vice-president, Issa Hayatou, from Cameroon, and Jacques Anouma, from the Ivory Coast, were involved.

In a letter published by the committee it was alleged that a whistleblower had told them that cash changed hands for votes: "The whistleblower said that the cash was to go to the three members' football federations but there would be no questions asked about how the money was used."

Fifa's ethics committee last year banned two other executive committee members after the paper's investigation into World Cup bidding.

Lord Triesman told the committee that he would now take his evidence to Fifa but admitted he should have taken action earlier. "These were some of the things that were put to me personally, sometimes in the presence of others, which in my view did not represent proper and ethical behaviour on the part of members of the executive committee."

But he added the FA chose not to complain at the time for fear of jeopardising England's bid, which ended up collecting only two out of 22 votes as Russia landed the tournament in December last year.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport committee, said he would be writing to the Fifa president Sepp Blatter calling on him to launch an investigation into the evidence "as a matter of urgency".

Mr Blatter demanded evidence of wrongdoing by committee members, and said he would act immediately if it was forthcoming. "I was shocked [upon hearing], but one has to see the evidence," the 75-year-old said."

Mr Warner said the allegations made against him by Lord Triesman were "a piece of nonsense". He said: "I've never asked Triesman nor any other person, Englishman or otherwise, for any money for my vote at any time.

"In the English campaign, before Triesman was unceremoniously kicked out, I've spoken to him on his initiative on only three occasions, while I've spoken to his other colleagues on other occasions and not one of them will ever corroborate his bit of trivia."

Mike Lee, the London-based public relations consultant who worked on Qatar's bid, said he was unaware of any payments being made. Mr Lee, formerly communications director of the Premier League, Uefa and London's 2012 Olympic bid, told MPs: "I was working at the highest level of that bid and talking at length with the chairman and CEO and saw no evidence of any of these allegations."

The accused...

Jack Warner (Fifa vice-president)

Allegation That he encouraged the FA to fund a £2.5m school in Trinidad.

Triesman said "What he had in mind was that some sort of school should be built. He said the funds could be channelled through him and he would guarantee that they were appropriately spent."

Nicolas Leoz (South America)

Allegation That he sought a knighthood from the UK.

Triesman said "He was deeply concerned people recognised what he had achieved in terms of the honours that he had achieved. I was then told... he believed that a knighthood from the United Kingdom would be appropriate."

Ricardo Teixeira (Brazil)

Allegation That Teixeira had told Trieseman "tell me what you have for me" in a brief exchange.

Triesman said "Mr Teixeira said to me, '[Brazilian President] Lula is nothing. You come and tell me what you have for me'."

Worawi Makudi (Thailand)

Allegation That Makudi demanded the rights to a game between Thailand and England would be given to him personally, rather than the Thai football association.

Triesman said "He did insist that one way or another the TV rights of the broadcast in the UK would go to him."

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