x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Fifa widens its probe into alleged bidding corruption

Qatar may have to wait longer to find out if it will win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

ZURICH // Qatar may have to wait longer to find out if it will win the right to host the 2022 World Cup as Fifa widened its probe into alleged bidding corruption yesterday after a former leading administrator reportedly claimed two candidates have colluded to trade votes.

Football's world governing body now faces pressure to postpone the race to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments while an investigation is ongoing. The result of the vote is scheduled for December 2.

Fifa said it has "immediately requested to receive all ... potential evidence", from Britain's The Sunday Times newspaper regarding its reporting of comments from Michel Zen-Ruffinen, who was the general secretary of football's world governing body for four years until 2002.

The Swiss lawyer was secretly filmed alleging that Spain-Portugal and Qatar have struck a deal giving each seven votes from the 24-man Fifa executive committee which is choosing World Cup hosts in December. Officials from both bids have denied the allegations.

Spain-Portugal want to host in 2018 and Qatar is a 2022 candidate. Both need 13 votes to guarantee victory under existing rules.

"This is not just a rumour, that's fact," Zen-Ruffinen was quoted as saying to undercover reporters who posed as lobbyists claiming to work on behalf of one bidder.

Fifa said it will refer the evidence to its ethics committee, which last week officially launched an investigation into alleged illegal collusion between bidders, which it did not name.

The ethics panel is also investigating two members of Fifa's ruling executive following allegations in The Sunday Times.

Amos Adamu, of Nigeria, and Reynald Temarii, from Tahiti, were filmed seeming to offer their votes in exchange for funding for football projects. They were provisionally suspended from all football duty after appearing last Wednesday before Fifa's ethics court which used videos and transcripts provided by the newspaper.

Zen-Ruffinen was also recorded suggesting some of the Fifa voters can be influenced by money, another by "ladies," while another was "the biggest gangster you will find on Earth".