FIFA president Sepp Blatter greets members of the Palestinian refugee camp team this week. AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill
Political Football

Blatter launches FIFA corruption probe at last... into the man running for his job

Football’s governing body will look into fresh allegations of corruption, days before the crucial vote for its top job.

GARRET FITZGERALD ONCE said there are no elections as dirty as those in student politics.

He obviously didn’t watch a lot of football.

FIFA has today opened a corruption investigation of executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam, just one week before he challenges Sepp Blatter for the presidency of the organization.

The behaviour of vice president Jack Warner will also be probed.

The two senior officials will face an ethics investigation at FIFA headquarters on Sunday, three days before bin Hammam challenges Blatter in the presidential election in the 1 June vote by FIFA’s 208 national members.

US official Chuck Blazer, Warner’s longtime ally and CONCACAF general secretary, reported the allegations to FIFA.

“In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke … requested the FIFA ethics committee to open ethics proceedings,” the soccer body said in a statement Wednesday.

FIFA said the bribery allegations related to bin Hammam’s meeting with 25 Caribbean soccer leaders on May 10-11 in Warner’s native Trinidad to lobby for support.

“This meeting was linked to the upcoming FIFA presidential election,” FIFA said.

Blatter’s campaign adviser, Brian Alexander, said the FIFA president would not comment on the case.

Bin Hammam helped organize the hastily arranged meeting after he was unable to attend the CONCACAF annual congress a week earlier in Miami.

The Qatari official was denied a visa to enter the US, despite traveling on a diplomatic passport. His campaign’s administrative oversight left Blatter a clear run to lobby for votes in Miami.

Qatar won a controversial vote to host the 2022 World Cup last autumn.

Warner has long been a key powerbroker in FIFA politics and his 35-member confederation has not yet officially endorsed either candidate.

Meanwhile, inquiries into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes have been slow to develop and have not resulted in any formal charges.

- additional reporting AP

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