- Associated Press - Thursday, October 28, 2010

MADRID (AP) - The leader of the Spain-Portugal bid to host the World Cup denied Thursday it has formed an alliance with 2022 hopeful Qatar to gain an advantage in the voting process.

FIFA opened an investigation into claims of collusion and vote-swapping between the pair after soccer’s governing body had provisionally suspended two of its own members last week in the wake of a Sunday Times in London report alleging they offered to sell their votes.

“The Iberian bid denies reaching any pact with Qatar or any other candidate and has made itself completely available to FIFA to investigate the allegations,” bid chief executive Miguel Angel Lopez said in a statement. “There is no basis to (reports) that our World Cup project is in danger.”

Marca newspaper reported Thursday the bid was in danger of missing out on hosting soccer’s biggest tournament due to the investigation, although Lopez added he had already been in contact with FIFA last week to dispel such allegations.

Spain, which hosted the World Cup in 1982, is teamed with Portugal and competing with Russia, England and Netherlands-Belgium for the 2018 tournament. The United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Qatar have focused on 2022.

The vote to determine the hosts is scheduled for Dec. 2.

On Thursday, FIFA’s ruling executive committee opened a two-day meeting which could alter the shape of the bidding contests as it looks to select a voting procedure which the 24-man executive committee would use for the decisive vote at its Zurich headquarters.



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