ZURICH, October 21 – FIFA on Wednesday provisionally suspended two members of their executive committee from Nigeria and Oceania who are at the centre of an alleged World Cup 2018 vote selling scandal.
The president of world football’s governing body, Sepp Blatter called it "a sad day for football," as FIFA’s ethics committee warned of "zero tolerance" and officials rushed to salvage the credibility of the bidding process to host the 2018 and 2911 World Cups.
"We had to take a decision to suspend two members of the FIFA executive committee… They are Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii," Claudio Sulser, president of FIFA’s ethics committee, told journalists.
"The provisional decision is against these two members," he added after a meeting of senior FIFA officials, underlining that the committee would judge on the fundamentals of the case over the next month.
Four other football officials were also suspended.
FIFA had summoned the two members of its 24 strong executive committee to a meeting of the ethics body in Zurich, which is investigating allegations of votes being sold in World Cup bidding for 2018.
A British newspaper reported on Sunday that Adamu and Temarii had offered to sell their votes in the bidding race for the 2018 World Cup to undercover journalists posing as lobbyists.
"I can only agree with the chairman of the ethics committee… when he said it’s a sad day for football," said Blatter.
Sulser said the decision was made after viewing full length video recordings provided by the newspaper, and hearing the two officials, to ensure respect for football pending an in-depth investigation and ruling on the case in November.
"The committee has zero tolerance as far as violations of the code of ethics are concerned," he explained, underlining that executive committee members had to be above reproach.
"We have not yet considered the fundamentals of the issue which will be judged next month," said Sulser.
England, Russia, and joint bids by Spain-Portugal and Netherlands-Belgium are in the running to host the 2018 World Cup. For 2022, the contenders are Qatar, Australia, the United States, Japan and South Korea.
FIFA maintained an announcement for December 2 on which countries will host both events after its 24-strong executive committee makes the choice, although the full voting arrangements have yet to be confirmed.
Blatter said he expected "all members (…) of the FIFA family to behave in a honest sincer and respectful manner."
"Rules have to be abided by everybody, we have the necessary tools to intervene, that’s what we have done today."
The money allegedly requested by Adamu was to pay for four artificial football pitches in Nigeria, but he had said it should be paid to him personally.
However, he is also now under investigation by his country’s anti-corruption agency, who announced they were opening an investigation into him earlier on Wednesday.
Temarii insists he was innocent of the claims made in the newspaper report and has vowed to clear his name, it was reported Wednesday.
The Sunday Times alleged it filmed the Tahitian, who is also a FIFA vice president, demanding 2.3 million US dollars to set up a sports academy in Auckland from undercover journalists posing as bid lobbyists.
The OFC is based in New Zealand.
Temarii said the footage released by the Sunday Times did not give a true picture of what occurred over 45 minutes.