- Associated Press - Thursday, November 11, 2010

Suspended FIFA executive committee member Reynald Temarii has “no doubt” he will be cleared of corruption charges and allowed to vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.

Temarii told The Associated Press on Thursday that he is confident FIFA’s ethics committee will lift his suspension next week after he shows that Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper “fabricated false evidence” against him.

“I have no doubt that I will vote on December 2,” Temarii wrote in an e-mail reply to questions from the AP, adding that he will be willing to later reveal for whom he voted in the secret ballots.

“I feel confident and determined that I now will have the opportunity to present my evidence to the ethics committee in order to confirm my good faith and integrity.”

Temarii, who is the Oceania Football Confederation president, said he is suing the British newspaper because it edited a 4-minute, 12-second video of his interviews with undercover reporters to suggest he would sell his votes to fund a soccer academy in New Zealand.

The video “grossly manipulated” the full 98 minutes of footage now available to the ethics committee, which imposed the interim sanction last month, Temarii said.

“That’s why, on the 4th of November, I have instigated legal action of defamation against the Sunday Times in London,” he wrote.

Temarii is one of 24 members of FIFA’s ruling executive committee that chooses World Cup hosts.

The 2018 contest is between England, Russia and the joint bids of Belgium-Holland and Spain-Portugal. The 2022 race involves the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Qatar.

The ethics committee begins a three-day meeting Monday to complete investigations into alleged bribery and vote-trading.

The panel will hear evidence from Temarii and Amos Adamu, who is also provisionally suspended from FIFA’s executive committee after The Sunday Times secretly filmed him appearing to offer his votes in exchange for cash toward a soccer project in his native Nigeria.

The investigation also will examine claims that Spain-Portugal and Qatar broke bidding rules by striking a vote- trading alliance, which the newspaper alleged involved another seven FIFA voters.

After the first allegations were published in the Sunday Times on Oct. 17, Temarii met with FIFA President Sepp Blatter in Zurich to ask for an ethics investigation. Also that day, he acknowledged to the AP that he made a mistake talking with the reporters, who posed as lobbyists, but maintained his innocence.

“I have nothing to be blamed for and I spent these three weeks with serenity to provide enough elements to prove that I never sold my vote for any bids, and did not even have the intention to,” Temarii said Thursday.

He said he felt “disappointed and saddened” to be barred from all soccer duties, including contact with the nine World Cup bidders seeking his support. He has been mandated by the 11-nation Oceania body to support neighboring Australia for 2022.

Oceania’s executive panel confirmed last month that his votes should be awarded on the criteria of “quality of the bids, FIFA economic strategy and pre- and existing relationships.”

“My vote has been part of a transparent and collective process and if the OFC executive members agree, and if the FIFA rules permit, I will be happy to announce the candidate I have voted for in 2018 and 2022 and the reasons why,” he said.

Temarii said he agreed with recent criticisms of the British media by Blatter and Mohamed Bin Hamman, the Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation, that it was “unethical” to trap soccer officials in undercover stings.

The ethics panel also is expected to rule Wednesday on cases involving four former FIFA executive officials _ Tunisian lawyer Slim Aloulou, Amadou Diakite of Mali, Botswana’s Ismail Bhamjee and Ahongalu Fusimalohi from Tonga _ who reportedly advised undercover reporters how to bribe voters.

Temarii said the panel’s scrutiny meant people could have full confidence in FIFA and the World Cup voting process.

The 43-year-old official, who played professionally in France, maintained he served Oceania “with all honesty and passion” since being elected its president in 2004. He hoped to keep tackling the south Pacific region’s issues with education, good governance, health, social integration and the environment.

“I always believe that football can be used as a tool to fight against these issues,” said Temarii, who is up for re-election in February. “I also believe that my work is not finished.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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