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Fifa forced to clarify gift rules

By James Pearce
BBC sports news correspondent

England World Cup bid logo

Fifa, football's world governing body, has published its rules on the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups for the first time.

The decision follows repeated requests from the BBC to see the regulations.

Last week, the BBC revealed that the England 2018 bid team had bought luxury handbags for the wives and partners of all 24 voters in the Fifa election.

The bidding countries knew what these rules were, but until now have not been allowed to talk about them in public.

The regulations state that gifts should be banned "except for occasional gifts that are generally regarded as having symbolic or incidental value and that exclude any influence on a decision in relation to the bidding process."

It would appear from this that the England bid team was indeed in breach of the regulations when it gave out the luxury handbags.


However, the use of the word "symbolic" does leave the regulations open to some interpretation.

In previous bidding contests, the rules have contained a spending limit of $100 on any present. The rules for the 2018 and 2022 contests contain no mention of a specific amount.

The England bid team will have to wait for a few more weeks to find out if they face any possible possible sanctions from Fifa over the handbag gifts.

Fifa's Ethics Committee will meet before the end of the year, but the committee's agenda is never published in advance.

Fifa's decision to publish the rules of the bidding contest on its website for the first time is in response to criticism that the process is not transparent enough and is open to abuse.

Although the handbag incident is embarrassing for the England bid team, it could actually end up working in their favour.

Fifa's publishing of its rules will increase the scrutiny on any gifts handed out by England's rivals and reduces the chances of the contest becoming a "present frenzy".

The host countries for 2018 and 2022 are being decided in December 2010 and there are currently 10 different bids on the table.

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see also
2018 bid gives handbags as gifts
23 Oct 09 |  Football
England 2018 ambassadors unveiled
22 Oct 09 |  Football
England 'must improve 2018 bid'
07 Oct 09 |  Football
Rivals unite for World Cup bid
23 Jul 09 |  Merseyside
2018 bid chief calls for humility
18 May 09 |  Football
Triesman calls for World Cup bid support
18 May 09 |  Internationals

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