- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ZURICH (AP) - FIFA has provisionally suspended two top officials in a World Cup vote-selling scandal, and will continue investigating the pair.

FIFA says executive committee members Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii from Tahiti are barred from all soccer-related duty until the probe ends.

Soccer’s governing body did not say when final verdicts are expected.

FIFA launched investigations after British newspaper The Sunday Times alleged Adamu and Temarii offered to sell their votes for funding toward soccer projects.

Adamu was filmed asking for money to be paid directly to him.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ZURICH (AP) _ FIFA’s ethics court began hearing corruption allegations against two executive committee members who offered to sell their votes, and at least two countries bidding to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Soccer’s world governing body ordered investigations into Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii from Tahiti after British newspaper The Sunday Times reported they offered to sell their votes in the World Cup bidding contests.

FIFA requested evidence from the newspaper, which filmed the officials discussing deals to fund soccer projects with reporters who posed as lobbyists.

The ethics panel is also examining allegations that unnamed bidders were colluding to trade support, in breach of FIFA rules of conduct created for the bid race which began in January 2009.

The panel, chaired by lawyer and former Switzerland player Claudio Sulser, can suspend FIFA officials from duty and recommend action against bid candidates.

FIFA sanctions could wreck a bid’s multimillion dollar global lobbying campaign with polling scheduled in just six weeks.

FIFA’s ruling executive will select the two World Cup hosts in a Dec. 2 secret ballot in Zurich.

The 2018 tournament will be held in Europe with four candidates in the running: England, Russia and the joint bids by Belgium-Holland and Spain-Portugal.

The 2022 hosting rights race was between the United States and four Asian confederation countries: Australia, Japan, Qatar and South Korea.

FIFA barred bidders from making agreements with other candidates, and insisted they must act with “integrity, responsibility, trustworthiness and fairness.” FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke issued a reminder of the rules last month after rumors of vote-swapping deals surfaced.

The Sunday Times allegations kicked off a dramatic week as FIFA seeks to maintain the integrity of the bid process.

Temarii, the Oceania Football Confederation president, met FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Sunday and asked to clear his name before the ethics committee.

The 43-year-old former professional player was filmed asking for $2.3 million to fund a soccer academy in Auckland, New Zealand.

“I’m confident about my integrity but I made a mistake by talking in that way,” Temarii told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The newspaper also quoted Temarii saying backers of two other unidentified bidders offered $10 million to $12 million to Oceania.

Amadu was filmed requesting $800,000 to build four artificial soccer fields in Nigeria, and for the money to be paid to him directly.

Sulser’s panel could provisionally suspend Adamu and Temarii while it completes the investigations. They are scheduled to attend an Oct. 28-29 meeting of FIFA’s executive in Zurich, where choosing a World Cup voting procedure is on the agenda.

FIFA does not have the power to fire members of the 24-strong executive because they are elected by their continental bodies.

However, its code of ethics for officials says those who “severely fail to fulfill, or inadequately exercise, their duties and responsibilities, particularly in financial matters, are no longer eligible and shall be removed from office.”

Adamu’s four-year term ends at the Confederation of African Football’s congress being held on Feb. 23 in Khartoum, Sudan. The 57-year-old former physical education teacher joined FIFA’s executive in 2006, succeeding Ismail Bhamjee from Botswana, who resigned after a ticket scalping scandal at the World Cup in Germany.

Temarii, who has led 11-nation Oceania since 2004, is scheduled for re-election at a Jan. 21-23 congress on his home island.

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