Fears of World Cup vote delay amid bribery claims

GLOBAL governing body Fifa has launched an investigation into claims of a cash-for-votes scandal surrounding England’s fight to host the 2018 World Cup.

A Sunday newspaper alleged that two of the 24 members of Fifa’s executive committee, who will decide in December who is to stage the tournament, offered to sell votes. Nigerian Amos Adamu, president of the West African Football Union, and Tahiti’s Reynald Tamarii, president of the Oceania Football Federation, are the two individuals named in the report.

Undercover reporters posed as lobbyists for a consortium of American companies who wanted to secure votes for the United States’ campaign. The US pulled out of the race on Friday, leaving England up against Spain/Portugal, Russia and Holland/Belgium.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter yesterday wrote to executive committee members amid fears the vote may be postponed. He said: “Fifa will... open an in-depth investigation, which we will start immediately together with the Fifa ethics committee and the Fifa secretary general.”

Chuck Blazer, the US committee member, said the allegations’ origins in an English paper would not damage this country’s chances. “I don’t think this is an issue which will have an anti-English backlash in the executive committee,” he said. “If it had been in a Spanish paper, would that damage their bid? I don’t think so.”