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Home » Sport » Football

MP asks SFO to investigate Fifa corruption claims

The Serious Fraud Office has been asked to investigate allegations that Fifa members asked for money and an honour during England's bid for the 2018 World Cup.

Damian Collins, the Conservative MP who is campaigning for Fifa reform, has written to Richard Alderman, the director of the Serious Fraud Office, asking him to investigate claims made to a parliamentary committee by the former England 2018 chairman Lord Triesman in May.

Triesman told the culture, media and sport select committee at a hearing on 10 May this year that there had been "improper and unethical" behaviour by Fifa members.

He also said that the then-Fifa vice-president Jack Warner asked for money – suggested to be £2.5m – to build an education centre in Trinidad, with the cash to be channelled through him, and later £500,000 to buy Haiti's World Cup TV rights for the earthquake-hit nation, also to go through Warner. Paraguay's Fifa member, Nicolás Leoz, also asked for a knighthood, Triesman told the committee.

Collins, a member of the select committee, believes the allegations may have breached the Fraud Act and the Bribery Act.

His letter to the SFO, a copy of which has been seen by the Press Association, states: "You will be aware of the long-running controversy over the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup involving allegations that officials requested inducements in exchange for their votes.

"On 10 May, Lord Triesman … told the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee that Jack Warner (at the time the vice-president of Fifa and president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, Concacaf) and Nicolás Leoz (president of the Confederación Sudamericana de Futból, Conmebol) had both asked him for bribes in return for voting for the England bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

"Lord Triesman alleged to the committee that Jack Warner asked for £2.5m, and that Nicolás Leoz asked for a knighthood in exchange for his vote. These allegations would suggest that offences under the Bribery Act 2010 may have been committed if it had been in force at the time.

"However, it seems to me that the allegations would also suggest that offences might have been committed under Section 4 of the Fraud Act 2006.

"I would be interested to know whether the Serious Fraud Office would be prepared to investigate."

The Football Association ordered James Dingemans QC to prepare a report on the Triesman allegations.

His report was passed to Fifa, who said they had found "no elements in this report which would prompt the opening of any ethics proceedings".

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