English FA gets lawyer to look at FIFA “bribery allegations”

David Cameron with FIFA President Sepp Blatter

The Football Association has commissioned an independent review by a leading barrister of Lord Triesman’s claims of misconduct by four Fifa members during England’s 2018 World Cup bid campaign.

James Dingemans QC will examine the evidence and speak to Lord Triesman, who made the allegations under Parliamentary privilege on Tuesday.

Mr Dingemans will try to speak to anyone who was present on the occasions referred to Lord Triesman and he will report back to the FA and Fifa by Friday May 27, and his findings made public.

FA chairman David Bernstein said: “It is essential that we determine as soon as possible the weight of evidence behind these serious allegations.

“If Lord Triesman’s allegations can’t be supported I suppose they will die a death because unsupported allegations will not take anyone very far. If the allegations are to stick with Fifa they need to be supported.”

Mr Dingemans has powerful legal credentials – he was senior counsel to the Hutton Inquiry into the depth of former UN weapons inspector David Kelly in 2003 and is a deputy High Court judge. He is also a member of the Rugby Football League’s advisory panel.

One Triesman allegation was that Fifa vice-president Jack Warner asked for money to pay for an education centre in Trinidad – Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards has confirmed the claim and is expected to be interviewed by Mr Dingemans.

Bid officials and a translator may have been present when Lord Triesman alleged Paraguay’s Fifa member Nicolas Leoz asked for a knighthood – and they may also be able asked to provide corroboration.

Thailand’s Worawi Makudi demanded television rights to an England friendly with the Thai national team, while Brazil’s Ricardo Terra Teixeira said “you come and tell me what you have for me”, Lord Triesman alleged.

The FA is to decide on who to back in the Fifa presidency before the report is due however, at a board meeting on May 19.

Mr Bernstein said there were three options: to vote for current incumbent Sepp Blatter, his rival Mohamed Bin Hammam or to abstain from voting.

The FA will make their decision public, confirmed Mr Bernstein and an abstention looks increasingly likely but he insisted he would follow the overall wishes of board members.

A number of senior FA figures are deeply unhappy with Mr Blatter because of the humiliation of England’s failed 2018 bid, and Mr Bernstein admitted “I don’t think it would go down very well” with the public if the FA board decided to vote for the 75-year-old.

But Mr Bin Hammam’s candidacy has also been tarnished by claims separate to Triesman’s, which alleged that Fifa members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma were paid £900,000 to vote for Qatar 2022. They deny the claims.

Mr Bernstein added: “We will look at the recent events and take that on board. There are two candidates and three possible decisions, the other being that we will abstain.

“Lord Triesman has not made accusations directly about the two people and there is no evidence to suggest they are not clean.”

Mr Bernstein said he was in favour of more openness in Fifa.

“The key thing is openness in process, in financial information, in the election procedures,” Mr Bernstein said.

“Fifa is a very closed organisation and a lot goes on behind closed doors.”

Source: Sky News

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