Qatar emphasised yesterday that it had won the 2022 FIFA World Cup vote “fairly”, while strongly denying a British newspaper claim that a former top football official paid more than $5mn to win support for the country’s bid to host the prestigious event.
“We vehemently deny all allegations of wrong-doing,” the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, Qatar’s World Cup organising panel, said in a statement yesterday, adding it was consulting its legal team over the allegations.
“We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter,” the committee said.
Britain’s Sunday Times claimed it had obtained “millions” of e-mails, documents and bank transfers relating to Mohamed bin Hammam, then a member of the executive committee of FIFA, the sport’s world governing body. But the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said yesterday that bin Hammam had no role whatsoever in Qatar’s 2022 Bid Committee.
“In regard to the latest allegations from the Sunday Times, we say again that Mohamed bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 Bid Committee,” it said. The committee said Qatar’s bid team even “had to convince bin Hammam of the merits” of the bid, just as was the case with other members of the FIFA executive committee.
“The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup,” it said.
“The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
FIFA is investigating the 2010 vote that awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and the 2018 tournament to Russia, following previous corruption accusations. A report by FIFA chief investigator, Michael Garcia, a top US lawyer, is to be finalised this year, and Qatar said it was co-operating with him.
“We are co-operating fully with Garcia’s on-going investigation and remain totally confident that any objective enquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly,” the committee’s statement said. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said several times in the past that Qatar will host the event in 2022, ruling out a re-vote on the bid.
In the original December 2010 contest to host the tournament, Qatar received 11 votes, South Korea four, the United States and Japan three each, and Australia one in the first elimination round. Qatar beat the United States by 14 votes to eight in the final round.
The Alligation: Official ‘paid $5m’ for bid support – Sunday Times
Qatar used a slush fund of $5m to bribe FIFA officials to win the 2022 World Cup, according to documents obtained by the UK’s The Sunday Times newspaper.
The paper claims that it has uncovered a “bombshell cache of millions of documents… which expose how Qatar’s astonishing victory in the race to secure the right to host the 2022 tournament was sealed by a covert campaign by Mohammed bin Hammam, the country’s top football official.”
Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2010 by FIFA in a decision that provoked widespread disbelief and condemnation, and the country has been dogged by allegations of bribery ever since.
The paper says that Bin Hammam channeled cash payments of up to $200,000 into the bank accounts of the presidents of 30 African football associations. It also alleges that several events were held in Qatar where more cash was handed out. A further $1.6m was paid in bribes to Jack Warner, former vice president of FIFA, the paper alleges – $450,000 of which was paid just before the World Cup vote.
The paper also claims that 25 FIFA delegates received $200,000 in cash after being flown to Malaysia to discuss the bid, and that one FIFA official asked for $232,000 to be sent to his personal bank account.
Bin Hammam himself was kicked out of world football in 2011 after being found guilty of trying to bribe officials in his bid to get elected as FIFA president.
The 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010, the same day that the 2018 tournament was awarded to Russia.
On Saturday, leading UK MP John Whittingdale called on Qatar to be stripped of the tournament. “There is now an overwhelming case that the decision to where the World Cup should be held in 2022 should be run again,” he said.
Last month FIFA boss Sepp Blatter admitted that it was a “mistake” to give Qatar the World Cup due to the extreme heat in the summer.
Legal experts suggest the new evidence could result in Qatar being suspended from the 2022 tournament pending an investigation, or completely thrown out.
“There is a precedent for this – back in 1986 Columbia was scrapped as the host nation just months before the event because the stadiums were not deemed suitable. This is still 8 years away, so there would be no legal issues with FIFA deciding to re-run the bidding process.”
Should Qatar be removed, Japan, Australia, the USA and England are all expected to make new bids.