Oceania soccer boss admits mistake' in Cup haggling

By Derek Cheng, agencies, Isaac Davison

A senior football official says he made a mistake in discussing the sale of his World Cup vote with an undercover reporter.

Oceania Football Confederation president Reynald Temarii was secretly filmed in an Auckland meeting by a reporter from Britain's Sunday Times posing as a lobbyist.

The videotape showed him asking for $3 million to fund a football academy in Auckland.

Mr Temarii sits on the 24-member committee which will vote on the venues for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in a secret ballot in December.

That ballot could now be delayed as Fifa investigates the newspaper sting.

Mr Temarii, from Tahiti, said he was confident his integrity remained intact.

He met Fifa president Sepp Blatter in Zurich and asked him to open an ethics investigation.

"I'm confident about my integrity but I made a mistake by talking in that way," Mr Temarii said.

"I asked the Fifa president to investigate. It's important for me that the ethics committee investigates how I manage my relations with bidders.

"Life is still going on," said the 43-year-old, a former professional player in France.

In the videotape Mr Temarii also said backers of two other unnamed bidding countries had offered him US$10 million ($13.3 million) to US$12 million to his Oceania confederation.

Prime Minister John Key said the scandal "hopefully" did not reflect poorly on New Zealand because Mr Temarii was not a New Zealander.

"I note the comments from Frank van Hattum who said it's an Oceanic issue and doesn't involve New Zealand Football.

"My concerns are whenever you get these kinds of allegations, whether they are match-fixing or selling of votes, it reflects badly on sport and in that regard it's of great concern."

An OFC statement said Mr Temarii would co-operate with Fifa's investigation into the matter.

The Oceania confederation's New Zealand representative, Fred de Jong, said he intended to speak to Mr Temarii, a close colleague, to get his side of the story.

Mr de Jong admitted that the accusation of bribery overshadowed the progress of football in the Oceania region.

It also cast doubt over Fifa's dependence on individual integrity in choosing host nations.

Mr Temarii holds the most important position in the Oceania footballing body and is the vice-president of Fifa's executive committee.

He has been an important figure in developing the sport in the Pacific and securing funding for grassroots initiatives.

England, Russia, Spain/Portugal and Holland/Belgium are bidding for the 2018 World Cup.

The USA, Australia, Qatar, Japan and South Korea are bidding to host the 2022 tournament.

Another committee member, Nigerian Amos Adamu, was also filmed by a reporter asking for $1 million for a "personal project".

- NZ Herald

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