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FIFA Expands Corruption Probe

Michel Zen-Ruffinen, FIFA General Secretary from 1998 to 2002, right, is among the subjects of the probe (file photo)

Football's world governing body (FIFA) has expanded its probe into alleged World Cup bidding corruption, after the organization's former secretary general claimed to know of candidates who colluded to trade votes and officials who could be bribed.

Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported that Michel Zen-Ruffinen, FIFA's general secretary from 1998-2002, was secretly filmed making the comments to a group of undercover reporters posing as lobbyists. FIFA has requested all of the potential evidence from the newspaper.

In the conversation, Zen-Ruffinen allegedly says Qatar and the joint bid from Spain and Portugal made a deal to trade votes in order to stage the 2022 and 2018 World Cup tournaments. Zen-Ruffinen was also recorded suggesting that specific FIFA voters could be bribed with offers of money or women.

FIFA says it has a "zero tolerance" policy for any breach of the Code of Ethics and the Bid Registration and will refer the evidence to its ethics committee.

FIFA's executive committee is scheduled to vote for the tournament hosts in a secret ballot on December 2.

England, Russia and joint bids from Belgium-Holland and Spain-Portugal are competing to host the 2018 World Cup, while United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar are the candidates for the 2022 tournament.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.