Morocco denies bribe allegations over 1998 World Cup bid

Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:09pm EDT
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By Aziz El Yaakoubi

RABAT (Reuters) - Morocco's soccer federation denied on Sunday allegations that the country had paid a bribe to a FIFA executive during its unsuccessful bid to host the 1998 World Cup.

U.S. authorities are investigating corruption at FIFA, soccer's global governing body, while Swiss prosecutors have announced their own criminal inquiry into the 2018 and 2022 bids awarded, respectively, to Russia and Qatar.

France hosted the 1998 tournament, but U.S. court documents contain prosecutors' allegations that bidding nation Morocco had paid a bribe to a FIFA executive, Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago.

Warner has denied this and other charges against him and has said he fears for his life, though he has also said he will tell investigators all he knows about corruption at FIFA.

"Morocco denies categorically these slanderous accusations against the officials of the country's organizing committee of the 1998 World Cup," said a statement from Morocco's soccer federation, known by its French initials FRMF, according to state news agency MAP.

"Regarding its efforts ... Morocco deserved better treatment instead of tendentious and unfounded rumors," it said.

Earlier this month, FIFA postponed the bidding for the right to host the 2026 World Cup and Swiss authorities took possession of computer data from the global soccer body that a source said included records from the office of its president.

The FBI are investigating bribery and corruption at FIFA, including scrutiny of how soccer's governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar.   Continued...