MPs accuse FIFA and Blatter of cover-up

LONDON - A British Government inquiry into corruption allegations surrounding World Cup bids has accused FIFA of trying to brush aside the evidence and has questioned president Sepp Blatter's commitment to reforming the organisation.

The 31-page report, issued by a House of Commons Select Committee, has called for FIFA to "commission a full, urgent and independent investigation" into the allegations surrounding the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

It also says it finds FIFA's decision to drop investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Jack Warner of Trinidad & Tobago, who resigned from FIFA's Executive Committee last month after 28 years rather than face corruption charges, as "extraordinary."

Among a number of conclusions, the report states: "We were appalled by the allegations of corruption made against members of the FIFA Executive Committee during the course of our inquiry.

"Although they have been challenged in other evidence, they are sufficiently serious for FIFA to commission a full, urgent and independent investigation and for the outcome to be made public.

"Instead, FIFA has given every impression of wishing to sweep all allegations of misconduct under the carpet and dismissing anyone bringing allegations to them with an approach bordering on contempt."

The report urges FIFA to review its bidding process for future World Cups and to reform itself as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did following allegations of bribery and corruption into Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

However, the report said Blatter's record did not inspire confidence that this would happen.

"We look to him now to fulfil the undertakings he gave at the time of his re-election to the presidency," it said. "We urge the FA, and other national associations to ensure he is held to account for them."

Committee member Damian Collins MP told Reuters in a telephone interview prior to the report's publication: "We are very concerned at the contempt FIFA showed when the evidence was presented to them. It is absolutely shocking at how little scrutiny there is of how FIFA executive members go about their business.

"FIFA may govern football, but it does not own football, and the way it operates would not be acceptable in any other organisation. FIFA needs to be far more transparent."

ENGLAND'S FAILURE

Initially, the inquiry, comprising MPs on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, was set up to examine how the game is run in England and to examine the failure of England's bid to stage the 2018 World Cup which was awarded to Russia last December. On the same day, FIFA awarded the 2022 finals to Qatar.

Subsequently in May, David Triesman, the former chairman of the English FA, gave evidence to the committee alleging that four members of the FIFA Executive Committee had demanded favours in return for voting for England.

Allegations made by the Sunday Times newspaper were also raised during the inquiry. Collins added that the way FIFA had dismissed those allegations was "hugely disappointing."

As well as being critical of FIFA, the report is also critical of Triesman, whose allegations in May against FIFA Executive Committee members Warner, Nicolas Le