FIFA to probe voting irregularities

Author: 
Nodley Wright
Date Published: 
2003-01-31
Source: 
Jamaica Gleaner
Page: 
B1,B3

No fear, says Burrell

JAMAICA FOOTBALL Federation president Captain Horace Burrell says he is not perturbed by a report carried by the Reuters news service and in the London Daily Mail this week. It was reported that FIFA has ordered an investigation into a voting scandal in which he has been implicated.

According to both reports, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is ordering an investigation into allegations of voting irregularities at two FIFA congresses - in 1996 and 1998. In both instances
- the 1996 Zurich congress and Paris in 1998 "Haiti's vote was stolen by unauthorised stand-ins from other countries", the media reports claimed.

On those occasions the president of the Haitian FA, Jean-Marie Kyss, was unable to attend but was voted for. According to the report, a female associate of Burrell voted in 1996 while a Trinidadian, closely associated with FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, voted in 1998.

To make their case to Blatter, the Mail newspaper presented evidence which indicated that voting was done by the Jamaican and the Trinidadian. The 1996 vote was to decide "whether to expand FIFA's Executive Committee from 21 to 24 members and Congress" or not. It was "overwhelmingly agreed to do so by 130-41 votes".

In the 1998 vote, Blatter defeated his Swedish opponent, Lennart Johannson, in a vote to decide the FIFA presidency. Blatter was elected by a margin of 111-80. "I am going to mandate the Disciplinary Committee to examine the claims," Blatter told reporters on a short visit to London, Reuters reported.

It continued: "Perhaps we should have opened an investigation on these matters before - but it is not too late to do so now.

"The investigation will be conducted through the Disciplinary Committee and I will ask the secretary of the committee to tackle this case."

The story also said that Burrell, who sits on the world football body's Disciplinary Committee, will not be allowed to sit on this case.

"No, no. Absolutely not," was Burrell's response to the question of him being concerned or worried about such investigations.

Burrell also said these allegations were a result of a campaign launched by British journalist Andrew Jennings and that nothing said or written by Jennings would surprise him. "Where
Jennings is concerned, nothing surprises me."

On the matter of the actual investigations, Burrell said he would offer no comments. What he did say was that there was a lot of politics involved in the affair.

"We felt, especially from a Jamaican standpoint, that the president had done a lot for developing countries and certainly deserved another (term), as opposed to the other candidate (Johannson)," said Burrell.

Asked if he believed he was being victimised because of his allegiance to Blatter, Burrell reiterated his original claim of no fear.

"I have nothing to fear and I am very happy that the president has decided to address the matter and bring it to a close."

The matter is expected to be addressed at the next FIFA meeting at the end of March.