World soccer's governing body, FIFA, is set to decide which countries will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Thursday. It's the first time the executive committee - who cast their votes to determine the outcome - has ever been asked to pick two World Cup venues in one session. However, the committee's numbers have already been thinned out due to one corruption scandal, and others are still hanging over FIFA's head, threatening to spoil the party for the Zurich-based organization.
Here's a rundown of the stories FIFA would like to disappear on World Cup selection day:
Cash for votes
Executive committee members Reynald Temarii and Amos Adamu were filmed offering pledges to vote for the United States' 2022 bid in exchange for financial considerations. Temarii, a Tahitian who represents the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) on the committee, asked men whom he believed were representatives of the US bid - but who were actually reporters working for the Sunday Times of London - for 3 million New Zealand dollars (1.7 million euros, 2.3 million US dollars) so he could build a soccer academy in Auckland. Confederation of African Football (CAF) representative Adamu requested 800,000 US dollars (610,000 euros) - half paid in advance - in order to lay four artificial football pitches in his home country, Nigeria.
Temarii was suspended from football for one year and fined 5,000 Swiss francs (3,800 euros), Adamu barred for three years and fined 10,000 francs.
High, in that it means two less people voting on Thursday, altering the formula for garnering enough committee votes to win the right to host the World Cup.
ISL's secret payments
Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian head of CAF, Brazil's Ricardo Teixeira, and Paraguay's Nicolas Leoz, the head of South American confederation CONMEBOL, have been accused of accepting bribes during the 1990s from the now-defunct sports marketing firm ISL. The BBC news magazine program "Panorama" and Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger have said say they possess ISL documents that show Hayatou was paid 100,000 French francs (15,200 euros), Leoz was paid $730,000, and Teixeira was paid $9.5 million via a shell company in Liechtenstein.
None as yet. FIFA considers accusations related to its former media rights partner ISL to be closed, but the International Olympic Committee, where Hayatou is also a board member, may see things differently.
In the short run, the claims will probably do little but harm England's chances of landing the 2018 Cup. If these three voters had been considering voting for England, they're now unlikely to do so since the corruption allegations were aired by the BBC.
In the long run, they could prove critical in cleaning up FIFA, should any kind of outside investigation go forward. The alleged instances of wrongdoing are up to two decades old, but the sums of money are massive - a ledger of similar payments made by ISL - whose recipients remain unknown - total over 100 million US dollars.
Trinidad and Tobago's Jack Warner, a FIFA vice president and the head of CONCACAF - the confederation of Caribbean, North and Central American football - has been accused of again breaking FIFA rules regulating the resale of Word Cup tickets. "Panorama," along with the Danish sporting newspaper Tipsbladet, reported that Warner bought more than 84,000 US dollars worth of tickets to the World Cup in South Africa so as to re-sell them to scalpers.
None as yet. But since Warner was caught doing much the same thing during the 2006 World Cup in Germany - and fined by FIFA for it - he may be punished again.
Potentially great. Warner is believed to exert great influence over the way his CONCACAF colleagues Chuck Blazer (USA) and Rafael Salguero (Guatemala) will vote, and thus has been courted assiduously by a number of 2018 bids. The BBC program may have been enough of an embarrassment to move those three votes away from England and toward Russia or Spain/Portugal. The effect on the vote for the 2022 host is less significant as the three men are expected to favor the US, the only bid from within CONCACAF's ranks. Longer-term, Warner is thought to be a major power broker in the 2011 race for the FIFA presidency, likely to pit incumbent Sepp Blatter against Qatar's Mohamed Bin Hammam. If Warner were to be suspended, that race could be blown wide open.
Author: Matt Hermann
Editor: Nancy Isenson