FIFA added claims by Zen-Ruffinen to its investigation

October 25, 2010

FIFA said it has “immediately requested to receive all potential evidence,” from Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper regarding its reporting of comments from Michel Zen-Ruffinen, who was general secretary of soccer’s world governing body for four years until 2002.

Zen-Ruffinen was secretly filmed saying 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. Spain and Portugal want to co-host in 2018 and Qatar is a 2022 candidate. Both need 13 votes to guarantee victory under existing rules.

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. Officials from the Spain-Portugal and Qatar bids have not confirmed they are being investigated.

“FIFA has immediately requested to receive all the documents and potential evidence that the newspaper has in relation to this matter, and will in any case analyze the material available,” it said in a statement.

“FIFA and the ethics committee are committed to have zero tolerance for any breach of the Code of Ethics and the Bid Registration. FIFA and the ethics committee are determined to protect the integrity of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.”

The ethics panel also is investigating two current and four former members of FIFA’s ruling executive following Sunday Times allegations that the bidding process was shrouded by corruption.

Zen-Ruffinen, who left FIFA after alleging financial mismanagement under Blatter’s leadership, also was recorded suggesting FIFA voters could be bribed with offers of money or women.

The Swiss lawyer later told the newspaper he exaggerated his claims to help gain a consultancy fee and had only offered to assist reporters contacting FIFA officials.

Zen-Ruffinen’s claims will heap more work onto the FIFA ethics committee, which is scheduled to deliver verdicts on its separate investigations into officials and bidders at a meeting in mid-November, less than three weeks before polling day. He could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday.

The four former executive committee members also provisionally suspended are Tunisian lawyer Slim Aloulou, Amadou Diakite of Mali, Botswana’s Ismail Bhamjee and Ahongalu Fusimalohi from Tonga.