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May 25, 2011

FIFA to investigate new bribery claims

FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam and controversial CONCACAF chief Jack Warner have been summoned to face the governing body's ethics commission over bribery allegations.

Press Pass Extra: Bin Hammam claims

• Blatter retains African support
• Qatari World Cup team bite back
• Whistleblower to give evidence

FIFA announced on Wednesday that they had opened the investigation to examine the conduct of four officials - Bin Hammam and Warner, along with CFU officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester - in relation to claims made by executive committee member Chuck Blazer.

Blazer, who is the general secretary of the CONCACAF federation, has alleged that violations were committed under the FIFA code of ethics during a meeting organised by Bin Hammam and Warner on May 10 and 11 - the same time Lord Triesman had accused Warner of demanded money for a World Cup 2018 vote - in relation to the upcoming FIFA presidential election, which takes place on June 1.

Bin Hammam is the president of the Asian Football Confederation and is running against Sepp Blatter to be the new president of football's governing body. All four officials must be in position by Friday to attend a hearing in Zurich on Sunday (May 29).

A FIFA statement read: "On May 24, 2011, FIFA executive committee member and CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer reported to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke possible violations of the FIFA code of Ethics allegedly committed by officials.

"In particular, the report referred to a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), apparently organised jointly by FIFA vice-president Jack A. Warner and FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam, which took place on May 10 and 11 2011. This meeting was linked to the upcoming FIFA presidential election.

"In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, in compliance with art. 16 of the FIFA code of ethics, yesterday requested the FIFA ethics committee to open ethics proceedings.''

The chairman of the ethics committee, Claudio Sulser, will not oversee the proceedings because he shares Swiss nationality with Bin Hammam's presidential rival Blatter, and this could be construed as a conflict of interests. The meeting will instead be chaired by the committee's deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb of Namibia.

The new investigation follows on from a separate inquiry launched earlier this month by FIFA into claims made in the British Parliament regarding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups last year.

Former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman alleged during a culture, media and sport select committee hearing that he had witnessed "improper and unethical'' behaviour by four ExCo members - including Warner - during his time as England's 2018 World Cup bid chairman.

Triesman alleged that Warner asked for cash to build an education centre; that Thailand's FIFA member Worawi Makudi wanted to be given the television rights to a friendly between England and the Thai national team; that Paraguay's FIFA member Nicolas Leoz asked for a knighthood; and that Brazil's FIFA member Ricardo Terra Teixeira asked Triesman to "come and tell me what you have got for me''.

Two other ExCo members - FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast - were accused in the committee of having been paid $1.5 million each to back Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 finals in a submission to the committee by the Sunday Times newspaper.

Earlier this month the FA sent a full dossier of Triesman's allegations to FIFA, while the organisation also requested that the Sunday Times submit any evidence they had to support their allegations of wrongdoing in relation to the Qatar bid.

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