A former top FIFA official admitted that he and others on the executive committee of soccer’s global governing body agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as 2010 World Cup host.
Chuck Blazer told a US judge in 2013 that he also helped to arrange bribes over the 1998 world soccer games, BBC reported, citing a newly released partial transcript of his testimony.
Blazer, an American national, secretly pleaded guilty to 10 criminal counts in a federal court in New York as part of an agreement with US prosecutors, according to the transcript of the hearing.
US authorities have launched a wide-ranging corruption investigation case that engulfed FIFA and prompted its president Sepp Blatter to resign.
Prosecutors last week indicted 14 people on charges of bribery, racketeering and money laundering. Four others had already been charged, including Blazer.
The US justice department alleges they accepted bribes and kickbacks estimated at more than US$150 million over more than two decades.
Reuters, meanwhile, reported that the FBI’s investigation of bribery and corruption at FIFA includes scrutiny of how soccer’s governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar.
Russia and Qatar have denied wrongdoing in the conduct of their bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, which were not the subject of charges announced by US prosecutors a week ago against FIFA officials.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah said there was no way Qatar would be stripped of its right to host the World Cup because it had had the best bid.
“It is very difficult for some to digest that an Arab Islamic country has this tournament, as if this right can’t be for an Arab state,” he told Reuters in an interview in Paris. “I believe it is because of prejudice and racism that we have this bashing campaign against Qatar.”
For its part, Russia dismissed concerns it might lose the right to host the cup.
“Cooperation with FIFA is going on and, most importantly, Russia is continuing preparations for the 2018 World Cup,” a Russian presidential spokesman was quoted as saying.
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