Officials from the Japan Football Association on Saturday flatly denied reports that the organisation paid US$1.5 million to CONMEBOL following their successful 2002 World Cup hosting bid.
The bombshell accusation was made to Spanish sports daily AS by an informant known as Confidant X, a former CONMEBOL employee of 15 years who provided documentation confirming the transfers had been received.
According to Confidant X, the payment in 2000 from former JFA chairman Ken Naganuma, who died in 2008, was intended to be divided between CONMEBOL’s member nations.
Instead, the majority of the money was funneled to the private account of then-FIFA ExCo member Nicolas Leoz, who has been indicted in the United States’ ongoing criminal proceedings against over a dozen football officials.
“It couldn’t have happened,” honorary chairman Junji Ogura told Hochi on Saturday. “If it did take place, someone needs to tell us which account the transfers were made from.
“Everything is in our accounting reports. If it wasn’t written up, it wasn’t spent.”
The alleged payments would have been four years after the 1996 decision which saw Japan and South Korea become first-ever World Cup co-hosts, beating Mexico in a unanimous vote by acclamation.
Current JFA president Kuniya Daini called for an investigation into the accusations, echoing Ogura’s comments.