Germany latest country implicated in Fifa scandal
Germany allegedly sent Saudi Arabia rocket propelled grenades to get their vote to host the 2006 world cup.
JOHANNESBURG - It seems with every day that goes by another revelation is being made regarding Fifa and corruption.
The latest saga alleges Germany sent Saudi Arabia rocket propelled grenades to get their vote to host the 2006 world cup.
According to reports, it is alleged that then German chancellor Gerhard Shroder's management approved the shipment of arms to secure Saudi Arabia's vote to ensure they hosted the soccer showpiece nine years ago.
The most recent allegations mean all votes for the world cups from 1998 up until 2022 are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
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 that stunned world soccer.
Among issues the FBI is examining is the stewardship of Fifa by longtime president Sepp Blatter, who unexpectedly announced on Tuesday he was resigning shortly before it emerged that he too was under investigation by US law enforcement.
Authorities said last week they were investigating a case of $150 million paid in bribes over two decades, while Swiss prosecutors announced their own criminal inquiry into the 2018 and 2022 bids.
On Wednesday, the partially blacked out transcript of the November 2013 guilty plea of Chuck Blazer, a U.S. citizen and FIFA executive committee member from 1997 to 2013, showed he and others in FIFA agreed to accept bribes in bidding for the 1998 and 2010 World Cups and other tournaments.
"Among other things, I agreed with other persons in or around 1992 to facilitate the acceptance of a bribe in conjunction with the selection of the host nation for the 1998 World Cup," Blazer told a federal judge in New York, according to the transcript.
The tournament was hosted by France, but separate court documents contain the prosecutors' allegation that bidding nation Morocco paid a bribe to another Fifa executive, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, and that Blazer acted as intermediary. Warner has denied this and other charges against him, and late on Wednesday aired a paid political statement saying he feared for his life, but would tell investigators all he knows about corruption at Fifa.
Blazer went on to say in his plea hearing that from 2004 and through 2011 "I and others on the Fifa executive committee agreed to accept bribes in conjunction with the selection of South Africa as the host nation for the 2010 World Cup."
Blazer's lawyer declined to comment on Wednesday.
Many of the details were previously revealed in charging documents released by prosecutors when they announced indictments for 14 people, including nine Fifa officials.
Soccer power Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014 but in the case of Qatar, there was some surprise that the tournament was awarded to a small desert country with no real soccer tradition and where daytime summer temperatures can top 40 degrees Celsius (104F).
Qatar's Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah said there was no way his country would be stripped of its right to host the World Cup. "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," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.