Fifa act tough - but what does that mean for England's 2018 bid?
Fifa had to be seen to be taking tough action against the two executive committee members accused by the Sunday Times newspaper of offering their World Cup votes in return for money.
Fifa knew its reputation was on the line and, in delivering bans for Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, its ethics committee has shown it is prepared to act if members of the most exclusive football club in the world step out of line.
But its failure to investigate more thoroughly the claims of collusion between 2018 bidders Spain/Portugal and Qatar's bid for 2022 leave a lingering suspicion that this process still needs to be made more transparent.
Jerome Valcke, the general secretary of world football's governing body, essentially admitted there was little anyone could do to stop voting members striking deals between themselves ahead of the vote on 2 December.
"Am I certain the votes for 2018 and 2022 will be free of any collusion? I cannot answer this question," said Valcke on Thursday. "Having two World Cup bids at the same time has opened the door to such conversations, particularly as you have eight bids that have executive committee members in the room."
Worth noting, too, the words carefully chosen by Claudio Sulser, the chairman of Fifa's ethics committee. There was not, he said, "sufficient grounds" to reach the conclusion that there was any collusion.
But beyond revealing that written statements had been provided by members of the executive committee, he would not say exactly how far they had looked into it.
So what does all this mean for England's chances of winning the right to stage the 2018 World Cup?
Andy Anson, chief executive of the England bid, might have been upbeat in briefings with journalists following the publication on Wednesday of Fifa's evaluation report but Thursday's decisions may have taken the spring out of his step.
The banning of Temarii and Amadu has reduced the number of votes needed to win the right to host the 2018 competition from 13 to 12. However, sources suggest their absence from the election removes at least one and maybe two of England's backers.
Sulser's extraordinary rant against the Sunday Times will also be a cause for concern. Having seemingly given credence to the newspaper's allegations by banning the two executive committee members, the Swiss lawyer then rounded on the journalists.
Accusing newspapers of sensationalising stories to sell more copies, he added: "I cannot tolerate the way they changed sentences and changed the way of presenting the truth."
He argued that, in releasing just four incriminating minutes of video online and not the many hours of footage they had collected, the Sunday Times had distorted the true context of the situation.
Sulser said he had been left with no choice but to ban the members. But one was left with the impression that he did not really think it was fair.
Fortunately for England, he does not have a vote in the election. But the tone of his attack may be a cause for concern. The timing of a BBC Panorama investigation into Fifa corruption - just three days before the vote - is now the biggest worry for England.
On Wednesday, Anson called the BBC unpatriotic, forcing the broadcaster to counter that its enquiries were entirely in the public interest.
The stand-off is likely to become one of the dominant themes during the climax to this contest. And whatever ground England may make in the next fortnight with the support of Prince William, David Beckham and Prime Minister David Cameron, Anson and co say one piece of television could blow all that hard work.
As if to underline their concern, Cameron has invited the influential Fifa vice president Jack Warner to lunch next week to try to persuade him to back England.
Warner, who has had brushes with Panorama in the past, is thought to be particularly annoyed by the new programme and England are desperate to keep him on side.
But the most significant problem for England remains the possible voting alliance between Spain/Portugal and Qatar. Despite Qatar's disastrous evaluation report, there are still fears among bidders that this could have a big influence.
The deal could guarantee both bids seven votes apiece, which gives Spain/Portugal a big edge over England with only 12 votes now needed.
Trying to predict the outcome for England remains extremely difficult. Working out how the members vote and why - even afterwards - is almost impossible.
And for all Fifa's talk of transparency, choosing the host of the World Cup ultimately is still a secretive decision taken by 22 men in a closed room. Can there be any other event of this magnitude and commercial value that is chosen in such a way?