FIFA to investigate bribery report

Updated: October 18, 2010, 9:26 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

ZURICH -- FIFA executive committee member Reynald Temarii acknowledged Sunday that he made a mistake talking with undercover reporters about deals for his World Cup hosting vote, but he defended his integrity.

Temarii said he met FIFA president Sepp Blatter earlier in the day to ask him to launch an ethics investigation, after the London Sunday Times filmed him saying he wanted $2.3 million to fund a soccer academy in Auckland, New Zealand.

The information in the article has created a very negative impact on FIFA and on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

-- FIFA president Sepp Blatter

FIFA's independent ethics panel is scheduled to discuss his case on Wednesday, the Oceania Football Confederation president said.

"I'm confident about my integrity but I made a mistake by talking in that way," Temarii said in an interview at a Zurich hotel. "I asked the FIFA president to investigate. I gave him a letter. It's important for me that the ethics committee investigates how I manage my relations with bidders."

Executive committee member Amos Adamu said Monday he also will face the ethics panel hearing Wednesday after being implicated in the bribery scandal.

Adamu declined comment later after meeting with Blatter.

Blatter has promised an "in-depth investigation" into allegations that Temarii, from Tahiti, and Adamu, from Nigeria, offered to sell their support for the Dec. 2 vote to decide which countries will host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.

In an open latter to his colleagues on FIFA's 24-man executive panel, Blatter said the Sunday Times' allegation is a "very unpleasant situation" for soccer's governing body.

"The information in the article has created a very negative impact on FIFA and on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups," Blatter said.

Temarii, who joined the executive committee in 2004, declined to provide details from his meeting with Blatter at FIFA headquarters. He will return early Monday to chair a meeting of FIFA's technical and development committee that Blatter is expected to address about improving refereeing standards at the World Cup.

"Life is still going on," said the 43-year-old Temarii, a former professional player in France. "It's up to the ethics committee to judge me and my integrity."

Blatter said the investigation will be conducted by the ethics panel working together with secretary general Jerome Valcke, but made no mention of whether the Dec. 2 poll would be delayed for FIFA to conduct its probe.

Chuck Blazer, the American member of FIFA's executive committee, said he did not think the vote in Zurich would need to be postponed.

"We should deal with it within the timeframe established," Blazer said. "We want to keep the issues separate and it's important we conclude the World Cup decision. There is no reason why we shouldn't. The investigation can be done right away."

The Sunday Times reporters filmed Adamu and Temarii asking for money to fund projects while posing as lobbyists for a consortium of American companies who wanted to help bring the World Cup back to the United States. No money changed hands.

"The Sunday Times report today makes it clear, but it bears emphasis and repeating, that the USA Bid Committee had zero involvement with any aspect of the reporting that resulted in this story," U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said in a statement to the AP. "This is a matter that is totally under the governance of FIFA, and therefore we will have no further comment."

FIFA said in a statement it has asked the newspaper for "all of the information and documents related to this matter."

"FIFA and the FIFA ethics committee have closely monitored the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups and will continue to do so," world soccer's governing body said in a statement.

Bidding alongside the U.S. for 2022 are Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar. There are four European entrants in the 2018 race: England and Russia as well as joint bids by Belgium-Holland and Spain-Portugal.

FIFA's code of ethics requires officials "respect the significance of their allegiance to FIFA, the confederations, associations, leagues and clubs and represent them honestly, worthily, respectably and with integrity."

Article 4.3 states that "officials who do not comply with this code or severely fail to fulfill, or inadequately exercise, their duties and responsibilities, particularly in financial matters, are no longer eligible and shall be removed from office."

The 57-year-old Adamu joined FIFA's executive committee in 2006, succeeding Botswana's Ismail Bhamjee, who resigned after a ticket scalping scandal at the World Cup in Germany. Bhamjee admitted selling 12 tickets for the England-Trinidad and Tobago match for three times their face value.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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