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World Cup '98 chief denies any wrongdoing

04 June 2015, 19:34

Paris - The former chief of the 1998 World Cup organising committee in France, Jacques Lambert, on Thursday refuted bribery accusations made by former North American federation supremo Chuck Blazer.

Ailing whistle-blower Blazer, who reportedly is suffering from cancer, has struck a deal with US investigators to lift the lid on corruption within FIFA.

Also read: Blatter resignation won't lead many to quit

The 70-year-old has claimed that he "agreed with other persons in or around 1992 to facilitate the acceptance of a bribe in conjunction with the selection of the host nation for the 1998 World Cup."

But Lambert, currently the head of France's Euro 2016 organising committee, denies any knowledge of any irregular payments.

"My intimate and profound conviction is that the French bid team committed no irregularities," he said on Thursday.

Lambert wasn't actually part of the bid team that beat Morocco for the right to host the 1998 World Cup but joined the project as general manager of the organising committee in 1992, once France had been chosen to stage the event.

The bid chief at the time was Fernand Sastre, who has since died, and he was assisted by Odile Lanceau.

"Odile Lanceau remembers very well that the bid team went to see Jack Warner to present their bid and to convince him to vote for France rather than it's opponents, Morocco and Switzerland," added Lambert.

Warner is one of 14 football and sports marketing officials charged in the US in relation to more than $150 million (133 million euros) in bribes.

He was suspended by FIFA in 2011 for corruption but Wednesday vowed to take down everyone with him if he is to face American justice.

"I reasonably and surely fear for my life," he declared in a paid political broadcast in his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago, and later added that "not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming".

Warner said he had a file which "deals with my knowledge of international transactions at FIFA, including its president Mr Sepp Blatter" and "Trinidad and Tobago's prime minister".

Lambert said: "Warner asked that the France team would go and play a friendly in Trinidad and Tobago before the 1994 World Cup.

"At the end of the meeting, Warner said: 'I will vote for you'. The vote result was 12 votes for France and seven for Morocco.

"When we analysed the votes we realised that Warner had voted for Morocco."

France never played the friendly in the Caribbean island nation as they missed out on qualification for the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

According to documents published by American authorities on Wednesday, Morocco had offered bribes to try to win the right to organise the 1998 event.

Lambert, however, denied any knowledge of Moroccan kickbacks.



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