Fears that England's bid for the 2018 World Cup may suffer a backlash by a FIFA bribery scandal have been downplayed by a senior member of world football's governing body.
FIFA have launched an investigation into allegations that two of the 24-man executive committee offered to sell their votes for cash, and are even considering postponing the December 2 decision day. Leading figures in England 2018's bid team have concerns that the scandal could rebound on them if other FIFA members are unhappy that the Sunday Times' expose emanated from the English press.
But Chuck Blazer, the American member of FIFA's executive committee insisted that would not be the case - and that the December 2 vote need not be postponed. Blazer said: "I don't think this is an issue which will have an anti-English backlash in the executive committee. If it had been in a Spanish paper, would that damage the Spanish bid? I don't think so."
FIFA's ethics committee have launched an investigation into the Sunday Times expose of Amos Adamu from Nigeria and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, president of the Oceania Football Confederation.
Reporters from the Sunday Times newspaper posed as English-based lobbyists for a consortium of private American companies who wanted to help secure the World Cup for the United States.
At an initial meeting in London, Adamu is said to have told reporters that he wanted 800,000 US dollars to build four artificial football pitches in his home country. Temarii is also alleged to have asked for a payment, in his case to finance a sports academy. What is also serious for FIFA is that it is claimed both men told undercover reporters that they had been offer cash to vote for other bidding nations.
Blazer said all bidding countries he had dealt with had behaved entirely properly.
He added: "I'm disappointed with what I have read but you can't say the system is bad. They have created a scam, a trap, tempting people to do something wrong and it's up to the FIFA ethics committee to make their recommendation."
Blazer said that FIFA should deal with the scandal as quickly as possible and stick to the December 2 vote. He added: "We should deal with it within the timeframe established. We want to keep the issues separate and it's important we conclude the World Cup decision. There is no reason why we shouldn't. The investigation can be done right away."
England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium are bidding for the 2018 World Cup while USA, Australia, Qatar, Japan and South Korea are campaigning to host the 2022 tournament.