TOKYO: Japanese Football Association chairman Ohito KuniWataru has said that accusations of a World Cup bribe do not add up writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Some $1.5m money was supposedly paid to the South American confederation by the JFA in return for CONMEBOL’s support of the Japanese bid to host the 2002 World Cup

The claim appeared last week in the Spanish sports newspaper DiarioAS. It was contained in a sensational series which laid accusations of bribery, money-laundering and corruption running into millions of dollars against Nicolas Leoz, the veteran Paraguayan football official.

Leoz, ex-president of the South American confederation and former member of the executive committee of the world federation FIFA, is under house arrest pending an extradition application from the United States Justice Department in the so-called FIFAgate scandal.

On Friday a source who claimed to have worked for Leoz at CONMEBOL told the newspaper that the former chairman of the JFA, Ken Naganuma, arranged payment of the $1.5m in 2000.

This payment, according to the source, was “to be distributed among the 10 member federations of CONMEBOL as thanks for supporting Japan’s World Cup bid.” He claimed that, instead, $1.2m was diverted into one of Leoz’s personal accounts.

Accounts check

Current chairman KuniWataru said that, after an examination of the JFA’s accounts, “there is no record of any such remittance at all.”

The claim had certain flaws:

1, this would have been four years after FIFA had awarded hosting of the 2002 finals not only to Japan but jointly with South Korea;

2, Naganuma (who died in 2008) was not chairman of the JFA at the time, having serving only from 1994 to 1998; and

3, the host vote was carried out in the FIFA exco; the individual federations had no vote.

Further Japanese denials followed.
One came from Junji Ogura, a long-serving Japanese former member of the FIFA exco and now JFA honorary president. He added: “In any case, we didn’t have such sums of money.”

Ogura’s words were echoed by Kozo Tashima, the JFA’s current exective vice-president and a newly-elected member of the FIFA exco. He said: “I know nothing. I don’t know what to say.”

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