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 May 4, 2002 | 1312 IST

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FIFA rocked by Zen-Ruffinen 'bombshell'

Mike Collett

FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen presented a "bombshell" of a document on Friday, alleging corruption at the top of world soccer's governing body and hinting that one member of the Executive Committee could face criminal charges.

He also said that another person involved with FIFA in Africa could also be liable to criminal prosecution but gave no more detail.

Zen-Ruffinen, 43, told a news conference after a 10-hour extraordinary meeting of the committee: "I am not Mr Clean, but it is time that FIFA cleaned up its house.

"I do not want to go into detail, but two people have been bought.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter (L) and FIFA general secretary Michel Zen-Ruffinen arrive at a joint news conference.
"I think I played a very important card today. It is clear there is evidence of wrongdoing. If the Executive Committee don't act I will have to do something else".

Zen-Ruffinen delivered his 30-page dossier -- what one committee member described earlier as a "bombshell" -- on yet another day of high drama in the crisis that has engulfed FIFA since the collapse of its marketing partner ISL-ISMM last year with debts of around $300 million.

Zen-Ruffinen was sitting next to FIFA president Sepp Blatter at the news conference after the two men had got back on speaking terms following two weeks of a fall-out between them.

"Things have to improve. I can work with the president but not as we have been doing, " said the general secretary.


Zen-Ruffinen refused to name the people he was targeting, but he added that he was going to give the president time to prepare written answers to the points he was making.

"If I go through my report on page 16 for example I highlight misleading accounting practices, on another page there is violation of statutes. These are serious allegations - serious facts."

But Blatter said: "This is not a big crisis, it is a total misunderstanding. We should respect each other a little more perhaps. Today I thought I was in the wrong movie, but this is not the gospel, it is a sermon perhaps."

Earlier on Friday, Blatter said that five of the seven FIFA vice-presidents had asked him to stand down.

But he told the news conference: "Stand down from what? I am elected by the Congress if the Congress do not want me I will stand down, but I hope they do want me to stay."

Blatter is standing for election for a second term as president at the FIFA Congress in Seoul on May 29.

Earlier, FA vice-president Chung Mong-joon said FIFA was facing he most serious integrity problem since its foundation 98 years ago.

Chung added in a statement released to media "the attempted usurpation by Sepp Blatter of the authority of the FIFA Executive Committee must be stopped."

Chung, 50, the powerful chairman of the South Korean Football Association, also refuted allegations that he was the source of a leak of confidential information from the Internal Audit Committee (IAC), set up to examine FIFA's finances.

The IAC was suspended by Blatter on April 11 with the president claiming a breach of confidentiality was jeopardising the committee's work.

(Additional reporting by Timothy Collings)

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