Seeking some answers

By The Associated Press
Updated: October 28, 2010

ZURICH — FIFA’s ruling executive committee will reconvene Friday, when it is expected to discuss decisions that could change the shape of the scandal-hit 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

The committee’s two-day meeting began with a four-hour session Thursday, during which FIFA said it did not directly deal with issues surrounding the two bid races, which have been clouded by allegations of bribery, vote-selling and collusion.

The executive panel chaired by FIFA president Sepp Blatter had been expected to consider delaying one or both World Cup decisions until more credibility and public confidence has been restored to the process.

FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-Joon of South Korea told The Associated Press on Thursday that he expected a “constructive and productive” meeting. It was scheduled to select a voting procedure that the committee would use in a Dec. 2 secret ballot to choose the hosts, but began with two of the 24 members temporarily banished from FIFA headquarters.

Corruption allegations involving Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, plus two of the nine bidders, have shaken FIFA’s control over the multimillion dollar global lobbying contest.

Nigeria’s Adamu and Tahiti’s Temarii were provisionally suspended by FIFA’s ethics committee, which is examining evidence from videos and transcripts of interviews provided by the British Sunday Times newspaper.

The panel also is investigating two bidders for alleged collusion in the 2018 and 2022 elections, and four former FIFA executive committee members who were reported saying voters’ support was for sale.

Ethics chairman Claudio Sulser said last week he aims to publish findings by Nov. 17, but warned that Adamu and Temarii could be suspended for a further 20 days — beyond the Dec. 2 polling day — if his team needs more time to investigate.

Voting also could proceed with one or more candidates disqualified if the ethics probe decides bidding rules were broken by a vote-swapping alliance.

A leader of the Spain-Portugal committee bidding for the 2018 World Cup denied it was colluding with 2022 contender Qatar.

“The Iberian bid denies reaching any pact with Qatar or any other candidate and has made itself completely available to FIFA to investigate the allegations,” bid chief executive Miguel Angel Lopez said in a statement.

The 2018 contest also includes England, Russia and the joint bid of Belgium-Holland. Qatar’s rivals in the 2022 race are the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

In other scheduled business, FIFA’s executive committee was to receive a progress report on preparations for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

On Friday, FIFA also will discuss ongoing problems in its relationships with some national members, including Nigeria, Togo and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Blatter is expected to appear at a news conference after the meeting.