29 May 2015

Soccer chief tight-lipped on voting intentions

4:59 pm on 29 May 2015

The head of New Zealand Football will not confirm who this country will vote for as FIFA president, but he expects a clear message to be sent to the incumbent, Sepp Blatter.

Chief executive Andy Martin is in Zurich for the election, which will be decided through votes from 209 nations.

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin.

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin. Photo: Supplied

Fourteen people, including seven senior FIFA officials, were arrested on charges of racketeering, fraud and money-laundering yesterday as part of a US investigation.

A number of countries have publicly stated they will now vote for Mr Blatter's opponent, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.

Mr Martin said the New Zealand decision should be based on doing the right thing for football.

"There's got to be a very clear vote, I think if there's a good decision it will send a very strong message tomorrow to the incumbent. So everybody's got to give this a lot of thought and make sure there's a positive vote for reform, for change."

Mr Martin said an announcement would be made tonight on which way New Zealand Football would vote.

Local organiser says no sign of corruption

The head of the local organising committee for the Under-20 World Cup, which starts in Auckland tomorrow, said he had never seen any sign of corruption in FIFA.

Dave Beeche

Dave Beeche Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Dave Beeche told Morning Report the allegations had come as a bolt from the blue and he knew nothing about the matter.

He said he knew how New Zealand Football and the individuals involved at the time worked, and he would be very surprised if there was anything untoward at all.

Mr Beeche said he was confident the tournament had nothing to do with the allegations, and would be a world-class event.

Wellington Regional Stadium is to host three double-headers during group match play, and Wellington's deputy mayor Justin Lester said he had no dealings with the chairman of the tournament's organising committee, Jeffrey Webb.

Mr Webb was among the seven FIFA officials arrested in Switzerland on corruption charges on yesterday.

Mr Lester was involved in securing the games for Wellington, and has confirmed the cost was about $800,000.

But he said he never met Mr Webb when he was in New Zealand in February, and he had no qualms about dealing with FIFA.

Hamilton is another tournament host.

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker.

Hamilton mayor Julie Hardaker Photo: RNZ

Mayor Julie Hardaker said once the matches were completed, the council and local businesses expected to have spent about $720,000 on the event between them.

She acknowledged the tournament was run under the FIFA umbrella but said the money would be spent on running the event in Hamilton.

"Our hosting fee is to the local organising committee, they run the event in New Zealand, and that's where the payment goes."

The coach of New Zealand's under-20s football side said the scandal surrounding the tournament's governing body had not affected his team.

The All Whites under-20s coach, Darren Beazley, said it had not affected the players, who were locked away in a FIFA bubble and had been concentrating on their game.

Mr Beazley's under-20s side face Ukraine in the first match of the World Cup, tomorrow in Auckland.