Fifa vice-president to face IOC bribe investigation

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The Independent Online

Claims of corruption made against Fifa vice-president Issa Hayatou in a BBC documentary are to be investigated by the International Olympic Committee.

Hayatou is also an IOC member and the Panorama programme, broadcast last night, claimed he was given a bribe worth £10,000 in 1995 by the now-defunct marketing company ISL.

The IOC said in a statement: "The IOC has taken note of the allegations made by BBC Panorama and will ask the programme makers to pass on any evidence they may have to the appropriate authorities.

"The IOC has a zero tolerance against corruption and will refer the matter to the IOC ethics commission."

Three people were accused by Panorama of taking bribes - African confederation president Hayatou, whose vote England's campaign to host the 2018 World Cup had high hopes of capturing, Brazil's Ricardo Terra Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay.

Fifa vice-president Jack Warner is alleged to have tried to buy World Cup tickets to pass on to touts - although the programme accepted he did not actually do so.

According to Panorama he "ordered (2010 World Cup) tickets costing 84,240 US dollars from the Fifa ticket office but the deal subsequently fell through".

The four men are all part of the 22-man committee who will vote on the 2018 and 2022 hosts on Thursday.

Fifa released a statement insisting that the Panorama documentary had simply covered old ground.

The statement read: "The matters concerning the case "ISL/ISMM" which are referred to date back many years ago and were investigated by the relevant authorities in Switzerland.

"In its verdict of 26 June 2008, the Criminal Court of Zug had not convicted any Fifa officials. It is therefore important to stress again the fact that no Fifa officials were accused of any criminal offence in these proceedings.

"Furthermore, it is important to recall that the decision was made on matters which took place prior to the year 2000 and there has been no court conviction against Fifa. The investigation and the case are definitely closed."

Panorama has been branded "an embarrassment" by England 2018 bid leaders, for whom Warner is the key to their hopes of winning Thursday's Fifa executive committee vote, because of the timing of the screening.

Asked about his reaction to the Panorama programme, Warner said: "I really have no interest in this matter... now or ever."

Warner's importance to the England bid is such that Prime Minister David Cameron has invited him to lunch before the vote on Thursday.

But Uefa president Michel Platini insisted the programme should not affect England's bid.

Platini's remarks to reporters in Zurich after the broadcast contained both reassurance and warnings for England.

He said: "I don't think this (programme) will have an effect, no - but I think what may affect the decision is the atmosphere going back a long time and what people have been writing about Fifa in the British press for many years."

The Panorama programme has been criticised over the timing of the screening as the allegations have nothing to do with World Cup votes and all relate to payments made between 21 and 11 years ago by ISL, which had been awarded the marketing rights to successive World Cups by Fifa.

An England 2018 statement said: "We stand by our previous position that the BBC's Panorama did nothing more than rake over a series of historical allegations, none of which are relevant to the current bidding process. It should be seen as an embarrassment to the BBC."

Clive Edwards, the executive editor of BBC current affairs, defended the timing of the Panorama programme.

He said they had received a list showing the payment of the bribes last month and had spent the entire time since checking it out and putting the claims to the people involved.

He said they put the information to Fifa on November 10.

"Panorama's job is to investigate corruption and wrongdoing in public life so we put the information out there as soon as we could," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"Some people have said that it would have been better to do it after the vote but it is surely nonsense to suggest that you know a process could be flawed and you don't say anything until after it has happened.

"I am not prepared to sit on information we have. I believe that it is in everyone's interest that there should be a fair process and that corruption should be exposed."

England is up against Russia, Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium for 2018, with Australia, Japan, USA, South Korea and Qatar bidding for 2022.

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