FIFA to go ahead with 2018 and 2022 WCup votes

FIFA will go ahead with voting on bids for the 2018 and 2022

World Cups despite its probe into alleged bribery and

collusion.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said Friday that the Dec. 2

balloting will proceed as scheduled, but acknowledged that it may

have been a mistake to combine the two World Cups into one bidding

process.

”I am not convinced now that it was the right decision,”

Blatter said.

FIFA hoped to improve its financial strategy if sponsors and

media rights holders bought a two-tournament package, but the

tactic appears to have created more opportunities for

corruption.

FIFA’s 24-member executive committee will select the hosts for

both tournaments by secret ballot in Zurich.

”There was never a question of changing anything in the

procedure,” Blatter said at a news conference after a two-day

executive committee meeting.

Two executive committee members, Nigeria’s Amos Adamu and

Reynald Temarii of Tahiti, are currently suspended after being

accused of offering to sell their votes.

FIFA’s ethics committee is to rule on both cases on Nov. 17. The

panel also is investigating Spain-Portugal and Qatar for alleged

vote-trading.

England, Russia, Spain-Portugal and Belgium-Holland are vying

for the 2018 World Cup, while Qatar, the United States, Australia,

Japan and South Korea are competing to host the tournament in

2022.

Delaying the vote could have disrupted bidders’ plans to bring

politicians and soccer greats before FIFA’s ruling panel for the

final presentation – the climax of more than two years of

campaigning and lobbying that have already cost millions of

dollars.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and current Prime Ministers

Vladimir Putin of Russia, David Cameron of Britain and Julia

Gillard of Australia are expected to be in Zurich.

A delay also would have created problems for the Asian Football

Confederation.

Asia has a Jan. 6 congress in Doha, Qatar, where three of its

four FIFA executive seats are up for election. One is certain to

change because 72-year-old Junji Ogura of Japan has passed the AFC

age limit.

Temarii’s bid for re-election as Oceania president is scheduled

for January, and Adamu would have to defend his FIFA seat at the

African soccer congress in February.

Both Temarii and Adamu could yet be barred from World Cup voting

after undercover reporters from The Sunday Times secretly filmed

them asking for money for soccer projects.

The newspaper later released video of former FIFA general

secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen saying Spain-Portugal and Qatar have

struck a deal giving each seven votes.

The Iberian neighbors deny the claim, and Qatar officials have

not confirmed they are being investigated.

The ethics panel is due to publish its findings Nov. 17.

That is also the day when several countries connected to bids

play each other in international exhibitions that provide

opportunities for last-minute lobbying. Qatar will host a

Brazil-Argentina game in Doha, Australia plays Egypt in Cairo and

Russia faces Belgium in Voronezh. Portugal also plays Spain in

Lisbon.

FIFA’s executive committee agreed Friday on rules for the vote.

The winner needs an absolute majority, which would be 13 votes if

all 24 members are allowed to vote after the ethics panel issues

its ruling. The candidates with the fewest votes in each round will

be eliminated until a result emerges.

Voting at FIFA headquarters will be monitored by a Swiss lawyer

and consultants KPMG. Results will be sealed and taken to a

conference center in downtown Zurich for the announcement

ceremony.