GENEVA: FIFA executive committee member Amos Adamu denied any wrongdoing in a World Cup vote-selling scandal on Thursday, despite being provisionally suspended from duty.
The Nigerian official issued a statement to “wholly refute all allegations made” by British newspaper The Sunday Times that alleged Adamu and fellow FIFA ruling executive member Reynald Temarii offered to sell their 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes for funding toward soccer projects.
Adamu said he supported an ongoing investigation by FIFA’s ethics committee, which on Wednesday suspended the two officials from all soccer activities until it meets Nov. 15-17.
Four former FIFA executive members named in the newspaper sting have also been suspended by the ethics panel. It has a separate investigation into at least two unnamed bidding countries for alleged collusion to trade votes, in breach of FIFA rules.
The 2018 contest is between England, Russia and the joint bids of Belgium-Holland and Spain-Portugal. The 2022 race involves the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar.
Adamu was filmed by undercover reporters who posed as lobbyists trying to secure votes, telling them he wanted $800,000 to build four artificial soccer pitches in Nigeria, and for the money to be paid to him directly.
“Whilst I wholly refute all allegations made, I fully support the inquiry since it is important that these claims are thoroughly investigated,” Adamu said. “Only by doing this will FIFA—and the wider football community—be able to trust that its appointed representatives are beyond reproach.”
Temarii, the Oceania Football Confederation president from Tahiti, was filmed asking for $2.3 million to fund a soccer academy in Auckland, New Zealand.
Adamu and Temarii appeared Wednesday before the ethics panel, which had videos and interview transcripts supplied by the newspaper.
The head of FIFA’s investigation, ethics chairman Claudio Sulser, said after the hearing in Zurich that the suspensions were justified and “should not be put in question.”
Adamu responded on Thursday that he had not yet presented his case.
“However, I am confident that my actions, the full and true extent of which were not detailed in the story published, will demonstrate not only my innocence and integrity, but also my commitment to football and to FIFA,” he said, adding he would not comment again until FIFA gives its verdict.
Sulser said his panel meets again next month and could extend suspensions by a further 20 days—going beyond Dec. 2, when FIFA’s 24-member executive committee is scheduled to select the 2018 and 2022 hosts in a secret ballot in Zurich.
FIFA has not yet made clear how the vote will proceed if Adamu and Temarii are still barred on polling day. The two men will miss an Oct. 28-29 meeting when their 22 executive colleagues are scheduled to agree on voting rules for the poll.
Adamu, a 57-year-old former physical education teacher and Nigerian sports minister, joined FIFA’s executive in 2006. He succeeded Botswana’s Ismail Bhamjee who resigned after a ticket scalping scandal at the World Cup in Germany.
Bhamjee is one of the four officials also suspended by FIFA on Wednesday following interviews they gave to The Sunday Times detailing corruption in the bidding process. The others are Tunisian lawyer Slim Aloulou, Amadou Diakite of Mali, and Ahongalu Fusimalohi from Tonga.