International football's governing body says it will investigate claims made in a leading British newspaper Sunday that two members of its executive committee offered to "sell" their votes in the contest to host the 2018 World Cup.
Journalists from Britain's Sunday Times newspaper posed as lobbyists for U.S. corporations and they reportedly found two executive committee members of the world soccer body who allegedly would be open to "selling" their votes in exchange for substantial money payments.
The paper reports that the men, Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temaril of Tahiti, said any payments would go to fund soccer development programs back home.
In the case of Adamu, the Sunday Times has released a covertly recorded video it says supported the allegations. In one clip, Adamu says a figure of some $800,000 should be paid to him personally.
They are on the 24-person board of the International Federation of Association Football, or FIFA for short, that will decide who will host the 2018 World Cup games. That board is headed by President Sepp Blatter.
Interviewed on Britain's SKY News, Times football writer Matt Hughes says the allegations are very serious.
"If FIFA executives are asking for money for votes then it makes a mockery of the whole process really, and it leaves people like [Sepp] Blatter with quite serious questions to answer," said Hughes.
The Sunday Times report makes it clear the U.S. Bid Committee had absolutely no involvement in the undercover operation mounted by the paper.
In London, Foreign Secretary William Hague says the process of awarding the event must be totally clean and transparent.
"These are serious allegations and of course we want all the, all the proceedings of the World Cup bid to be carried out in a way that is ethically correct and that therefore means that everybody respect the process and respect the result," emphasized Hague.
From its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA promised a thorough investigation on Sunday. It says it is awaiting all of the documentation surrounding the matter.
The announcement on who will get the games in eight years will be announced on December second. In the running are England, Russia and two joint country bids from Belgium and the Netherlands and from Spain and Portugal.