Blatter: Collusion inevitable in World Cup votes
Less than two weeks before FIFA chooses the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, Sepp Blatter said on Friday that collusion between voters was inevitable but he expected no more corruption cases to emerge.
The FIFA president stressed that his 22-man executive committee understood that the world was watching before the Dec. 2 secret ballot in Zurich.
Blatter insisted that verdicts of an ethics investigation announced Thursday - which suspended two voters plus four other officials and cleared Qatar and Spain-Portugal of striking a votes deal - meant the secret ballot could proceed with ''all doubts cast aside.''
''Now we go ahead and (the vote) will be good,'' Blatter said after an emergency session of the executive committee which chooses the two hosts on Dec. 2 in Zurich.
However, Blatter did not dispel suggestions that a Qatari-Iberian pact alleged by a British newspaper was in place, instead stating that FIFA's ethics committee could not prove it.
''They had not enough evidence. They haven't said it's 'blanco','' he said, using a word meaning whiter than white. ''You cannot avoid collusion but if in such collusion there should be something wrong, then naturally somebody would intervene.''
Blatter said it was obvious his executive committee colleagues discussed the contests, because eight of the 22 eligible voters represent candidates. England, Russia, Belgium-Holland and Spain-Portugal are competing to host the 2018 World Cup. The 2022 contest involves the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar.
But he said they ''heard and understood'' his message that the entire world was watching FIFA.
''It has to do mainly with the commitment of these governments who have made a huge effort to represent their bids and make a personal effort to be present here,'' Blatter said.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are expected to help present their country's case at FIFA headquarters on Dec. 1-2. England is scheduled to send Prince William, David Beckham and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Deflecting the focus from corruption in football, Blatter playfully hinted at collusion involving Cameron, who leads a coalition government.
''They are enemies during the year then when it comes to fight another (political) party, then they come together. That is collusion. This has not been banned,'' the FIFA leader said.
Blatter revealed that former FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen was declared ''persona non grata'' at Friday's meeting for making the vote-trading pact allegation to The Sunday Times. Another former employee quoted by the newspaper, Michel Bacchini, also was no longer welcome in football circles.
He confirmed that suspended voters Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii will not be replaced by their continental confederations because both men are appealing sanctions imposed by the ethics panel.
Nigeria's Adamu got a three-year ban from all football activity for five violations of FIFA's ethics code, including agreeing to take bribes from the undercover reporters who posed as lobbyists trying to buy votes.
Reynald Temarii of Tahiti, the president of Oceania's confederation, was suspended for one year for breaching FIFA's loyalty and confidentiality rules when he was secretly filmed in the newspaper sting.
Four former FIFA executive committee members also were suspended for a total of 12 years based on bribery allegations published by the newspaper.
Slim Aloulou, a Tunisian lawyer who chaired FIFA's disputes panel, received a two-year sanction. FIFA referees committee member Amadou Diakite of Mali and Ahongalu Fusimalohi from Tonga were suspended for three years, and Botswana's Ismail Bhamjee got a four-year ban.