Ja­pan soc­cer boss de­nies pay­ment to Conmebol

The China Post - - SPORTS -

A se­nior of­fi­cial of the Ja­pan Football As­so­ci­a­tion has de­nied al­le­ga­tions that it paid US$1.5 mil­lion to the sport’s South Amer­i­can con­fed­er­a­tion for sup­port­ing its co-host­ing of the 2002 World Cup, a news­pa­per re­ported Sun­day.

“It’s im­pos­si­ble,” JFA hononary pres­i­dent Junji Ogura told the Asahi Shim­bun of the re­port.

On Fri­day Span­ish sports daily Diario AS said the JFA paid the money to the South Amer­i­can soc­cer con­fed­er­a­tion, Conmebol, af­ter it backed Ja­pan’s co-host­ing with South Korea of the 2002 event.

The re­port came amid deep­en­ing scan­dals at the top of world soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body FIFA. Four­teen of its of­fi­cials or part­ners have been charged as part of a cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by U.S. author­i­ties.

A source who worked at Conmebol for 15 years told the Span­ish pa­per that the then-JFA honorary pres­i­dent Ken Na­ganuma sent the money in 2000. He has since died.

Ja­pan and South Korea were cho­sen in 1996 as joint hosts of the 2002 event af­ter fierce com­pe­ti­tion be­tween the two na­tions.

Ogura said any such pay­ment in 2000 would have been im­pos­si­ble since Ja­pan had won the event four years ear­lier.

“Be­sides, we don’t have such a sum of money,” he added.

The Yomi­uri Shim­bun quoted JFA pres­i­dent Ku­niya Daini as say­ing the or­gan­i­sa­tion would check whether the money was re­ally sent.

Kozo Tashima, a JFA vice pres­i­dent and mem­ber of the FIFA ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, told lo­cal media he had never heard about the al­leged pay­ment.

“I know noth­ing. I don’t know what to say,” he said.

The JFA could not be reached for com­ment Sun­day.

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