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FIFA Say Qatar Issue For Ethics Committee And Brazil Stadiums On Track For World Cup

posted 21 Mar 2014, 12:18 by Mpelembe   [ updated 21 Mar 2014, 12:18 ]

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says the investigation into the decision to award the 2022 World Cup toQatar is a matter for the ethics committee, while General Secretary Jerome Valcke said that a financial impasse which threatened to cause further delays at Sao Paulo's World Cup stadium has been resolved.

 ZURICHSWITZERLAND (MARCH 21, 2014)(REUTERS) -  FIFA President Sepp Blatter played down allegations of corruption leveled at the organisation over the bid for the 2022 World Cup on Friday.

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There have been renewed claims this week that bribes were paid to ensure the tournament went toQatar.

Members of FIFA's executive committee are being interviewed by ethics chief Michael Garcia, who is also investigating the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and Qatar respectively.

A statement by the ethics committee was read out in the press conference following a FIFA executive committee meeting in Zurich.

It said they were aware of the allegations and would take appropriate action.

Blatter added that the ethics commission was independent and he could not comment on the issue.

"I'm happy that now we have an independent committee for ethics and this is a matter now to be dealt with by this committee," he told reporters.

"You have listened to the statement that the chair of this committee has made and I am not going to make any comments, please understand the situation, as long as the file is open with the president (of the ethics committee)."

The hosting rights for the two tournaments were both awarded December 2010. Thirteen members of the executive committee who made the decision, including FIFA president Sepp Blatter, remain while nine have left.

Those who have departed include Mohamed Bin Hammam, subsequently banned for life over a cash-for-votes scandal in the run-up to the 2011 FIFA presidential election, and Jack Warner, who resigned after being placed under investigation.

Russia defeated bids from England, Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal while Qatar won the race ahead of JapanSouth KoreaAustralia and the United States.

Asked if the vote would be held again if the ethics committee were to discover the vote had been bought, Blatter said he would not comment on any possibilities until the investigation was over.

"I can only answer what I have said, and I am not a prophet to see what comes out of any problems we have actually (at the moment) in international football, and this problem is now dealt with by an independent party and let them deal with this problem, and once dealt we can come back and we can have this dialogue about the responsibilities or not," he said.

When quizzed further he refused to comment and said journalists had to accept his position.

"99 percent, 99 percent of the presence here, they accepted the rules," Blatter said. "There are exceptions in the world we have to accept. Thank you ladies, thank you gentlemen, enjoy the day, enjoy the game."

Garcia, a former U.S. Attorney in New York, said in October that he planned to visit all the countries involved in the bidding process.

FIFA has subsequently launched a consultation process to discuss whether to switch the 2022 World Cup away from the scorching Qatari summer.

Asked if FIFA was looking at whether Russia could still hold the World Cup in 2018 after Moscow's takeover of the Ukrainian region of Crimea, Blatter said it was unlikely.

"During the executive committee of today we have received from our executive committee member Vitaly Mutko, he is also the Sports Minister for Russia, an intermediate report on the organisation of the World Cup 2018 in Russia, and there was... we have not any moves to have something changed," he said. "This World Cup has been given, or has been voted to Russia, and we are going forward with our work."

The committee also reviewed an update on the chaotic preparations for this year's tournament in Braziland said that a financial impasse which threatened to cause further delays at Sao Paulo's World Cup stadium has been resolved.

The Itaquerao stadium, being built by the Corinthians club, is due to open on April 15, nearly four months after the original Dec. 31 deadline FIFA, although Brazilian media reports said this week it might not be ready even then.

There was also uncertainty over who would finance temporary installations such as the media and VIP facilities, sponsors' tents and the big screen, however FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said this had been resolved.

"The Corinthians arena is the purpose of a meeting on Monday, the financial issue has been solved and now we have to make sure (everything is ready) because we only have 80 days that implement everything we need," he told reporters.

The arena, which will stage the opening World Cup match between hosts Brazil and Croatia, is due to officially open with a game between Corinthians and Flamengo.

Valcke said that Brazilian government plans to enforce ban all flights within a seven-kilometre radius of stadiums would not apply to most commercial flights.

Brazilian media had reported that the airports of CuiabaBelo HorizonteManaus and Fortaleza would have to shut as a result of the measure while flights would be restricted at other airports. However, Valcke said this was not the case.