Former Waveney MP makes new claim in World Cup corruption scandal

Bob Blizzard, Waveney MP from 1997 to 2010, claims the president of South American football indirectly asked him for an honour after a discussion over supporting England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Mr Blizzard says Nicolas Leoz, the Paraguayan member of world football ruling body Fifa's executive committee, made his request through a diplomatic envoy after the then Labour MP visited him in a bid to drum up support for England's ultimately doomed bid.

In December, England's quest to bring the cup to the home of football was controversially snubbed by Fifa's executive committee in favour of Russia in a behind closed doors vote.

Since the successful Russian bid was announced, there has been speculation that members on Fifa's executive committee sought financial or political gain as countries lobbied for their votes.

Mr Blizzard's honours claim follows comments on Tuesday by the chairman of England's 2018 bid Lord Triesman that Mr Leoz and three other members of Fifa's executive committee were 'guilty of improper and unethical behaviour' during the bid process.

Following Lord Triesman's remarks at the Culture and Media and Sport Committee investigating England's failed bid, Mr Blizzard came forward with his honours accusation as he is now convinced that elements of Fifa are corrupt.

The staunch Lowestoft Town fan met Mr Leoz during a British-Latin All Party Parliamentary Group visit to Paraguay's capital Asuncion in 2007.

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He met the president of the South American Football Confederation at its headquarters.

Mr Blizzard said: 'It seemed a very large building to me. In Mr Leoz's office there was a lot of football paraphernalia, including photographs of Bobby Charlton.

'We started talking about the World Cup in 2018.

He said: 'I think England would be good for it. It is about time it went there.'

Mr Blizzard added: 'He appeared to support England's bid.'

At the end of the meeting, Mr Leoz said he would visit London on his way back from a visit to FIFA's Zurich headquarters.

The allegations over Mr Leoz's honour claims arose after a Paraguayan charge d'affairs in Britain got in touch with Mr Blizzard about Mr Leoz's visit.

Mr Blizzard said the female charge d'affairs said Mr Leoz would like to visit London and it would be nice for him to get an honour.

Mr Blizzard said: 'I told her we did not do that sort of thing in Britain.

'I was quite shocked by what happened. The significant thing is Mr Leoz appeared to use his country's diplomatic service for his own use. It is a very serious matter indeed.'

Mr Blizzard said he knew Lord Triesman and believed his comments about corruption and inappropiate behaviour.

He added 'In my own view there are people in FIFA who are corrupt. I think there are corrupt elements.'

Mr Leoz has issued a statement in which he said he had never supported England bid and had always backed the failed joint bid by Spain and Portugal.

His spokesman also described the honours claim as 'pure fantasy'.

On Tuesday, Lord Triesman, former Football Association president, told the parliamentary commitee that in 2009 Mr Leoz said during a World Cup bid meeting a honourary knighthood would be 'appropriate' as a way to recognise his achievements in world football.

Lord Triesman also said Jack Warner the FIFA committee member for Trinidad suggested �2.5m be channelled through him to build a school in his name to ensure he had a legacy in the country.

Mr Warner was also said to ask for �500,000 to secure World Cup television rights for Haiti.

Lord Triesman told Tuesday's committee the FIFA member for Brazil Ricardo Texeira said to him: 'You come and tell me what you have got for me.'

And Lord Triesman said Thailand's Fifa executive Worawi Makudi asked for a friendly to be set up between his country and England in exchange for his World Cup 2018 host vote.

Following Lord Triesman's allegations, Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, said he would launch an invetigation into the four executive committee members.

FIFA expressed 'extreme concern' at the allegations and say they will examine the situation 'thoroughly and with clear-sightedness'.

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