Pressure grows on Fifa to rerun World Cup 2022 vote
Investigation into leaked documents leads to recommendation of revote on Qatar
The Qatar 2022 organising committee claims Bin Hammam, who was banned from football after bribing officials in a 2011 bid to unseat Blatter as Fifa president, had nothing to do with their bid
While awaiting the results of a semi-independent inquiry into the 2018 and 2022 bidding races, senior football figures heading for the 2014 tournament in Brazil are understood to be considering their response if the report recommends a new vote in light of new claims based on hundreds of millions of leaked documents.
In Britain, there was a renewed outpouring of concern from politicians and former football executives after the Sunday Times alleged that Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari former Fifa executive committee member, paid $5 million in cash, gifts and legal fees to senior football officials to help build support behind the bid.
The UK government has previously said the corruption allegations are a matter for Fifa. But the sports minister, Helen Grant, signalled a shift, and said: “It is essential that major sporting events are awarded in an open, fair and transparent manner.”
The shadow sports minister, Clive Efford, called for a rerun of the vote, in which Qatar overcame rival bids from the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea. “This issue calls the governance of football into question. No one will have any confidence in a Fifa investigation run by Sepp Blatter, ” he said.
“Fifa must take urgent action and reopen the bidding for the 2022 World Cup if it wants to restore its credibility.”
Fifa, gathering in Sao Paulo for its annual congress before a 2014 World Cup that has had a troubled buildup amid anger from Brazilians at the cost and corruption, referred inquiries to the office of Michael Garcia.
The former US attorney in New York is conducting a supposedly independent investigation into the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. He is expected to pass his conclusions to Fifa’s revamped ethics committee later this year. Meanwhile, the FBI is also investigating payments to former Fifa officials.
The Qatar 2022 organising committee claims Bin Hammam, who was banned from football after bribing officials in a 2011 bid to unseat Blatter as Fifa president, had nothing to do with their bid.
The Sunday Times said it had obtained hundreds of millions of documents and emails, which detailed conversations about payments from accounts controlled by Bin Hammam, his family and Doha-based businesses.
Among many other alleged payments to mid-ranking football officials and figures including the former footballer of the year George Weah, Bin Hammam paid $1.6 million to disgraced former Fifa vice-president, Jack Warner. He also allegedly paid $415,000 towards the legal fees of Reynald Temarii, the Fifa vice-president banned from voting in the original election following an earlier Sunday Times investigation. – (Guardian Service)