Corruption claims 'damage' FIFA
A member of FIFA's ruling executive committee has admitted that claims of corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup have damaged the world governing body's reputation.
Junji Ogura, the Japanese member of the 24-man committee that will decide on the 2018 and 2022 hosts next month also says the status of the tournament has also been affected. Ogura also insists England should not give up hope despite bid leaders admitting their campaign has been badly damaged by the recent Sunday Times undercover investigation into FIFA.
Ogura told the BBC: "We are totally disappointed and yes, I am sure there is damage for FIFA and for the World Cup."
Two other executive committee members, Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, have already been suspended following corruption allegations pending a hearing next week by FIFA's ethics committee. They deny any wrongdoing.
Ogura added: "We were very surprised and disappointed when the executive committee announced two members had been provisionally suspended. We are waiting for the outcome of the FIFA ethics committee later this month and we don't know if they are innocent."
England's chances of hosting the 2018 World Cup have been "significantly damaged" by the Sunday Times' allegations, according to a senior bid leader, who fear even more fall-out from a BBC Panorama investigation.
The England bid now looks to be in third place among the four European bidders for 2018 behind Spain/Portugal and Russia, ahead of only Holland/Belgium.
Allegations of collusion between Spain/Portugal and Qatar are also to be dealt with by FIFA's ethics committee next week but so far little concrete evidence has emerged.
England 2018 chief executive Andy Anson visited BBC director general Mark Thompson this week to express fears that the Panorama investigation could fatally harm their bid because FIFA members are angry at being targeted by the English media.
Ogura insisted however that England are still in the running, adding: "Their chances are very big. The contents of the English bid everyone appreciates very much."
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