World Cup whistleblower offered FBI protection

Phaedra Almajid didn’t receive anonymity promised when giving Garcia report evidence

Phaedra Almajid believes the anonymity promised to her when giving evidence to Michael Garcia’s (left) enquiry into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids was deliberately breached in a summary of Garcia’s report published by FIFA ethics committee judge Hans-Joachim Eckert (right)

Phaedra Almajid believes the anonymity promised to her when giving evidence to Michael Garcia’s (left) enquiry into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids was deliberately breached in a summary of Garcia’s report published by FIFA ethics committee judge Hans-Joachim Eckert (right)

 

A whistleblower who made corruption allegations against the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid claims she will live the rest of her life in fear after receiving threats against her and her children.

Phaedra Almajid, who worked for the Qatar 2022 bid team before losing her job in 2010, provided evidence of wrongdoing to Michael Garcia’s independent inquiry into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

Her evidence was given on condition of anonymity — a condition she believes was deliberately breached in a summary of Garcia’s report published by FIFA ethics committee judge Hans-Joachim Eckert last week.

“Do I regret being the Qatar whistleblower? It has cost me personally, it has cost me emotionally — I know for a fact I will be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life,” Almajid told Sky Sports News.

“It has cost me my credibility and most importantly it has cost me the security of both me and my children.

“However I did witness something and I believe I did have to say what I had witnessed.”

Almajid continued: “I had a lot of cyber attacks, a lot of them were directed to my children.

“I do believe it was through the Qataris. They knew a lot of information about me that I don’t believe FIFA knew or were interested in.

“I was a bigger threat to the Qataris than I ever was to FIFA.”

Almajid and fellow whistleblower Bonita Mersiades, who worked for Australia’s 2022 bid, have separately lodged formal complaints against Eckert’s 42-page summary.

“I was shocked, immediately I was crying,” Almajid said.

“Every time I met with Michael Garcia he ensured me everything was confidential.

“It was agreed before I even met him that I would not participate in the investigation unless I was kept anonymous and everything I provided was kept in confidence.

“I had no reason not to trust him so I was completely in shock at what was done. “I feel frightened at the moment because Eckert so conveniently, so calculatedly made sure that my identity was revealed.”

Almajid added: “Why has it happened? Simply to silence any other whistleblowers and to intimidate me and Bonita so we will stop talking about what happened during the 2022 bidding process.”

Almajid also revealed she has been offered protection by the FBI in light of the threats made against her and her two children.

“I was at home watching TV and then there were three FBI agents at my doorstep and said they wanted to talk to me,” she said.

“I let them in and they said to me, ‘We are here because we know you have received threats and we know the security and that of your children has been jeopardised, so we want to be here to see what we can do to help you’.

“It was terrifying. I opened up the door and there were three men there with their badges and they asked me all questions pertaining to my time in Qatar, what I had observed, what I had witnessed, everything and especially about the threats and affidavit.”

Eckert’s summary of Garcia’s 18-month investigation cleared Russia and Qatar to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, having found no serious breaches of bidding rules. Garcia, however, appealed against the summary, claiming it contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions” reached in his own findings.

Almajid said she did not know whether the FBI are investigating her allegations about corruption but insists Eckert’s summary ignored any evidence she provided.

She added: “How much is this World Cup worth? I think it’s worth billions, it brings billions of revenue into FIFA and the country who hosts it.

“Remember, I’m one single mum against the richest country in the world and the richest sporting organisation in the world.

“People might find it strange that this is happening in football but a lot of things have happened in football and FIFA and I’m sure I’m not the only one who is scared right now.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.