Soccer: Temarii 'comfortable' with suspension

By Terry Maddaford, agencies, Isaac Davison

Soccer's world body has suspended the head of its Oceania confederation in what Fifa chief Sepp Blatter has called "a sad day for football".

Oceania president Reynald Temarii will sit out all football-related activities for 30 days after a newspaper sting in Auckland videotaped him effectively selling his vote for World Cup hosting rights for cash.

Tonga Football Association general secretary Ahongalu Fusimalohi and four other officials were also suspended on the same terms.

Mr Temarii, from Tahiti, is one of a 24- member committee who will vote on the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

But his ballot, and the entire bidding process, is under a cloud after the accusations of bribery.

While being secretly filmed, he asked a journalist from the Sunday Times in England for $3 million to fund a football academy in Auckland in exchange for his support. The reporter was posing as a lobbyist.

Mr Temarii later admitted his error in discussing deals with an undercover reporter.

NZ Football's representative on the Oceania executive, Fred de Jong, spoke to him in Zurich yesterday.

"He seemed quite comfortable with what has happened so far," said Mr de Jong. "He went along with the matter going to the ethics committee and agreed that the process must now be allowed to run its course."

Former All White Wynton Rufer, voted Oceania's player of the 20th century, said he expected Mr Temarii to be sacked.

"It seems that he's done the wrong thing. You play with fire and you're going to get burnt. If you did that in government, you'd be finished."

Mr Fusimalohi said this week that undercover reporters posing as lobbyists targeted him in an Auckland hotel four weeks ago but he soon realised they were fake.

He said he played along with them, discussing receiving a US$100,000 board membership to support one country's bid, in an attempt to discover what they were up to.

- NZ Herald

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