Panorama confirm approach to FIFA

05 November 2010 05:00

BBC Panorama have already contacted FIFA and individual members about the findings of their investigations into World Cup bidding, it emerged on Friday.

News of the latest development will cause further worry to England 2018 World Cup bid leaders that their campaign is being damaged by Britain-based media investigations.

A Panorama spokesman said: "We have contacted FIFA and individual executive committee members regarding our findings. We are currently awaiting a response."

Two FIFA executive committee members have already been suspended following a Sunday Times undercover sting, and the fact that others have now been asked by Panorama for responses to their investigation is likely to infuriate world football's top brass.

Former sports minister Richard Caborn said the BBC should send all the evidence Panorama have uncovered to FIFA's independent ethics committee immediately - rather than deliver shock revelations when the programme is screened just three days before the vote for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

As revealed by Press Association Sport on Thursday, 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.

Caborn, formerly ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown's World Cup bid ambassador, said: "If Panorama or any other media have any evidence of any wrongdoing they should immediately refer that to the FIFA ethics committee so that it can be examined by the independent panel.

"Whilst I agree that newspapers and television have every right to investigate they should not be used in a selfish way for circulation or viewing figures and damaging the England bid. The importance of the England bid for ordinary fans is considerable and therefore any evidence should be referred to the new ethics committee immediately."

Bid leaders already admit that the recent Sunday Times investigation into FIFA members has caused "significant damage" to their campaign for 2018 and are worried that the Panorama programme will intensify the backlash against them.

FIFA's ethics committee was set up in 2006 and was initially chaired by Sebastian Coe before he stepped down to work on England's World Cup bid.

Source: PA