Dutch to probe Cup votes bribe claim

THE HAGUE • The Netherlands and Belgium in 2009 paid a lobbyist closely linked to a former Fifa vice-president to help garner votes for their 2018 World Cup bid, a news report revealed yesterday.

The combined bid to bring football's world showcase to the Lowlands ultimately failed.

However, the payment to the Guinean votes broker, named as Amadou Diallo, went through, the daily De Volkskrant said.

Diallo at the time was closely associated with ousted Asian football chief Mohammed Hamman, who resigned amid controversy in 2012 from all positions in football before a decision giving him a life ban.

"Diallo at the time was Hamman's right-hand man. The payment therefore transgressed Fifa's code of conduct," the paper said. "The code explicitly states that people affiliated to Fifa managers were not allowed to receive money from bidding teams.

"Diallo received at least €10,000 (S$15,500) from the Dutch-Belgian bidding team," added the newspaper, based on the documents in its possession.

An unnamed member of Fifa's ethics committee said it would investigate the claim "should new facts come to light".

"If money has been paid without a proper explanation, it would indeed be suspicious," the official told De Volkskrant.

Diallo denied he ever received money for his services, De Volkskrant reported. "I never saw a cent... Never, never, never," the paper quoted him as saying.

The Royal Dutch Football Federation (KNVB) yesterday denied any wrongdoing but added that it has opened a probe into documents surrounding the bid process.

"The KNVB and the Belgian Football Federation (KBVB) have previously cooperated with Fifa's ethics commission in regards to the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups," it said in a statement.

"The Belgian-Dutch bid emerged without blemish."

Harry Been, who was a member of the 2018 bid's Dutch delegation, said: "I cannot remember seeing anything inappropriate passing the 2018 bid committee's desk.

"We did it properly and within the guidelines, with relatively limited means."

The Dec 2, 2010 votes to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar set off a storm of corruption allegations that have still not been cleared up.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 13, 2015, with the headline 'Dutch to probe Cup votes bribe claim'. Print Edition | Subscribe