April 25, 2018 / 3:46 PM / 25 days ago

FIFA Secretary General rejects alleged ethics charge as 'baseless'

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura says claims she is related to an ambassador of the Moroccan bid for the 2026 World Cup are “ridiculous and baseless”.

FILE PHOTO: FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura speaks during an announcement ceremony of FIFA World Cup trophy tour at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

The BBC reported on Wednesday that Samoura had been referred to FIFA’s Ethics Committee for breaches of its ethics code relating to “duty of disclosure, co-operation and reporting” and “conflicts of interest”.

The report said that FIFA’s evaluation task force, which is examining the Moroccan bid along with the joint bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada had discovered an alleged undeclared family connection.

The BBC said the family link was between Samoura - whose full name is Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura - and the former Liverpool forward El Hadji Diouf, who is working in an ambassadorial role for the Moroccan bid. Both Samoura and Diouf are from Senegal.

“These claims against me are totally ridiculous and baseless. El Hadji Diouf is not a member of my family and therefore everything is crystal clear. There is nothing to discuss further,” Samoura told Reuters in an email.

After several requests for comment, FIFA’s media department neither confirmed nor denied that a complaint had been made about Samoura to the Ethics Committee.

FIFA did release a general statement about the bid process.

“FIFA has been heavily criticised for how it conducted the selection of hosts in the past. It was our obligation to learn from this and leave no room for any doubt or subjectivity,” said the statement.

“The enhanced bidding process is the result of a long and thorough consultation process with many external experts and stakeholders and includes the highest standards in terms of transparency, participation, commitment to sustainability and human rights and objectivity.

“Anyone criticising this approach should be able to say if they would prefer a return to the old ways.”

FIFA’s congress is scheduled to hold a vote to decide the 2026 tournament hosts when it meets in Moscow on June 13.

Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis

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