A general view shows FIFA headquarters, the Home of FIFA, in Zurich October 20, 2010. FIFA will begin an investigation on Wednesday into allegations of vote-selling by two members of its executive committee in the contest to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and that bidding nations may have colluded. Tahitian Reynald Temarii and Nigerian Amos Adamu will be summoned as the ethics committee probes allegations they offered to sell their votes when approached by Sunday Times reporters posing as lobbyists for an American consortium. Picture taken with a fish-eye lens. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann (SWITZERLAND - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

FIFA's ethics committee addressed the recent vote-selling scandal publicly yesterday, announcing that the two executive members caught on tape by The Sunday Times offering to sell their votes, Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti, are provisionally suspended pending a further investigation.  A final hearing will take place next month.

"The decision to provisionally suspend these officials is fully justified and should not be put in question. The evidence that has been presented to us today has led us to take this provisional measure, as we considered that the conditions were definitely met to take this decision and we deem that it is crucial to protect the integrity of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process. We are determined to have zero tolerance for any breach of the Code of Ethics," said the chairman of the Ethics Committee, Claudio Sulser.

The press conference to announce the suspensions started over ninety minutes late and raised more questions than it answered; none of the FIFA officials involved would explain how the voting procedure for the World Cup bids, set to take place just a few weeks after the final hearings for Adamu and Temarii, would change if at all.  A delay in the vote was generally dismissed as unlikely.

Keeping the focus on the allegations surrounding Adamu and Temarii, FIFA vice president Jérôme Valcke and his cohorts also stonewalled on the rumored investigation of two bidding nations for collusion; in the aftermath of yesterday's proceedings, word has leaked that the bids in question are Spain/Portugal, bidding for 2018, and Qatar, a bidder for 2022.  The possibility that the latter could be kicked out of the running for 2022 would be a boon to the American bid, which dropped it's 2018 aspirations last week.

Vote-trading is specifically prohibited by FIFA's regulations; any expectation that bidders would not trade votes or cooperate to improve their respective chances seemed naive, but nations were explicitly warned about vote-trading by Valcke just a month ago.

By holding the bidding for two World Cup at the same time, FIFA created a situation where vote-trading was inevitable. Again maintaining that questions should pertain only to the cases of Adamu and Temarii, Sulser and Valcke would not concede that the dual-bid process was a mistake.

To close to show, FIFA president Sepp Blatter addressed the perception that FIFA is corrupt.

"I was a little bit surprised that you say is FIFA corrupt? FIFA is actually in the world of sport a well-recognised organisation and institution and if there are some activities that are against the ethics and the morals that's why the ethics committee came in."

"Our society is full of devils and these devils, you find them in football. We have to fight for fair play, we have to fight for respect and especially we have to fight that the people in charge of FIFA behave as they should do and if this is not the case then we have to intervene."

Blatter's humorous incredulity and seeming hypocrisy aside, the important thing from an American perspective is the relative health of the US bid. FIFA's secret ballot system, suddenly complicated by the possibility that there will be two less voters than expected, does not allow for much confidence. Despite everything the American bid has going for it - including infrastructure, potential revenue, a glut of large stadiums, etc. - bid leaders are still unsure where they stand. The corruption scandal has only touched the US because The Sunday Times reporters chose to pose as American; the idea that US-based businessman were believable as bribers, and therefore that the bid took a perception hit, is a trifling concern. In light of Spain/Portugal and Qatar falling under suspicion, the Americans suddenly look like upstanding citizens.

Better yet, there now appears to be no reason for the Americans to speak out on the corruption scandal and declare their innocence. Had they chosen to do so prior to revelations that Spain/Portugal and Qatar were under investigation (provided the reports are accurate), they may have given off a guilty image. If the bid is clean, or its leaders were at all unsure if the US was one of the two nations in question, protesting might have done more harm than good. Though still unclear on its chances, the bid is free to head down the stretch with the goal in sight.

The controversy might also benefit the US bid, in that the voting process should be as on the up-and-up as it could possibly be; voters way of running afoul of the ethics committee will be on their best behavior. Collusion could be eliminated, or minimized, giving the strong US bid the upper hand simply because it's the best of the 2022 bunch.

Logic and merit have rarely mattered in the halls of FIFA. They may still have little sway in the future, but the scandals erupting around the 2018 and 2022 bidding competitions give them a chance of relevance. If merit does matter, the US bid stands a very good chance.

But this being FIFA, there's a very good chance there's more where all of this came from.
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