Dr. Amos Adamu has temporarily been suspended by the world football governing body, FIFA, following a preliminary inquiry into allegations of corruption.
Also suspended is Reynald Temarii, a FIFA Vice-President and President of the Oceania Football Confederation (OCF).
Both men, who are members of the powerful 24-member FIFA Executive Committee, have been asked to “step aside” in order to allow for full and proper investigations into the damming allegations that they were ready to sell their bidding votes for personal financial gains.
The decision to suspend the men was taken yesterday after they had met with members of the Ethics Committee, which had been asked to investigate the allegations by FIFA President Sepp Blatter who said yesterday that he would fight devils in the football hierarchy.
Announcing the committee’s verdict at a packed news conference at FIFA’s Headquarters in Zurich, committee chairman Claudio Sulser said: "The decision to provisionally suspend these officials is fully justified and should not be put in question.
The evidence that has been presented to us today has led us to take this provisional measure, as we considered that the conditions were definitely met to take this decision and we deem that it is crucial to protect the integrity of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process."
Sulser, who also revealed that the final resolution of the crisis would be reached by mid next month when FIFA would meet again, stressed that the football body had a zero tolerance towards any member who strayed from their rigid code of ethics.
"It is crucial to protect the integrity of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process. We are determined to have zero tolerance for any breach of the code of ethics," he said.
Although, Sulser, who is a former footballer, failed to divulge any details of the investigation, the fact that the Ethics Committee still felt there was need to suspend the members is perhaps an indication that the defences given for their actions were not convincing enough and thus warranted further investigations.
Before the meeting with the Ethics Committee yesterday, sources close to Adamu had insisted that he would be exonerated because he had kept the FIFA hierarchy in the know while dealing with the undercover reporters of the Sunday Times of London.
Both Adamu and Temarii are accused of offering to sell their votes in the contest to host the 2018 World Cup ahead of December's ballot.
They were secretly filmed by the Sunday Times, who posed as lobbyists for a consortium of American companies that wanted to bring the event to the US.
However, following the suspension, both men cannot be involved in any football-related matters, which means that Adamu, who became a FIFA Executive Member in 2006, will also not be able to carry out his duties as the President of the West African Football Union (WAFU) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) of which he is an Executive Member.
On his part, Temarii will also have to temporarily relinquish his position as President of OCF pending the outcome of the investigation. Furthermore, the Ethics Committee examined the cases of four officials – Slim Aloulou, Amadou Diakite, Ahongalu Fusimalohi and Ismael Bhamjee – also in relation to an alleged breach of the FIFA statutes, the FIFA Code of Ethics and the FIFA Disciplinary Code linked to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.
The committee also decided to suspend the four officials provisionally from taking part in any football-related activity.
Again at the request of FIFA, the Ethics Committee decided to open an investigation into alleged agreements between member associations and their bid committees in relation to the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process, something which would also be a violation of the Bid Registration document and the Code of Ethics.
A decision on this case will also be taken by the Ethics Committee at its meeting in mid-November, following a thorough investigation.
Adamu is already being investigated by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).Adamu allegedly said he wanted $800,000 to build four artificial football pitches in Nigeria, well against FIFA's rules. The Sunday Times footage appears to show him asking for money to be paid to him directly for endorsing a US bid. Temarii, who is alleged to have asked for a payment to finance a sports academy, has already pleaded his innocence.
"I am 100 per cent convinced of my integrity," Temarii, head of Fifa's technical and development committee, previously told Inside World Football. "That's why I have stayed on."
Temarii suggested his comments on the Sunday Times video had been taken out of context. Meanwhile, Blatter told a news conference in Zurich yesterday: "It is a sad day for football because it's a sad day in life and you cannot have always sunny days.
"Our society is full of devils and these devils you find them in football. We have to fight for fair play, we have to fight for respect and especially we have to fight that the people in charge of FIFA behave as they should do and if this is not the case then we have to intervene.
"As the president of FIFA I appeal to and I expect all members not only of the FIFA executive committee but all members of the FIFA family to behave in an honest, sincere and respectful manner because football is based on discipline, respect, fair play and solidarity.
"We have the necessary tools to intervene when necessary and that is what we have done."