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Qatar accused of paying $5mn in bribes to win World Cup bid

Qatar accused of paying $5mn in bribes to win World Cup bid
Senior football officials in Africa received over $5 million in bribes to make sure Qatar won the bid for the 2022 World Cup, the Sunday Times reports citing leaked documents.

According to the paper, the money came from former FIFA vice-president and infamous Qatari businessman, Mohamed Bin Hammam.

Bin Hammam reportedly used 10 slush funds controlled by his private company – as well as cash handouts – to make dozens of payments of up to $200,000 to the heads of the 30 African football associations.

In one of the leaked emails, president of Namibia’s Football Association, John Muinjo, assured his Qatari partner that we “will always be behind you” and asked for “once-off financial assistance to the tune of $50,000.”

Bin Hammam promised that the required sum would be “delivered as soon as possible.”

In March, The Telegraph reported that he also paid $1.6 million to former FIFA Executive Committee member from Trinidad and Tobago, Jack Warner.

Bin Hammam has been banned from world football since 2011, when bribed voters in order to be elected FIFA president.

The 65-year-old Qatari official and his family declined to comment on the accusations when approached by the British journalists.

Qatar denies any wrongdoing

The Qatar 2022 organizing committee issued a statement on Sunday saying that Bin Hammam “played no official or unofficial role in the bid committee.”

“We vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter,” the statement said.

“The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid,” the organizers added.

Mohammed Bin Hammam.(Reuters / Fadi Al-Assaad )

FIFA vice-president, Jim Boyce, said that he would support re-staging the vote for the 2022 World Cup if corruption allegations are proven.

If FIFA’s chief investigator, Michael Garcia, rules that “the wrongdoing happened for that vote for the 2022 World Cup, I certainly as a member of the executive co would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a re-vote,” Boyce told Radio 5 Live Sportsweek.

Garcia is scheduled to hold a meeting with Qatari bid officials in Oman on Monday.

In their statement, the Qatari World Cup organizers stressed they are “cooperating fully” with the FIFA investigator and “remain totally confident that any objective inquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly.”

The chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the British House of Commons also expressed the view that “there is now an overwhelming case that the decision as to where the World Cup should be held in 2022 should be run again.”

Meanwhile, Russian Football Union’s honorary president and former FIFA vice-president, Vyacheslav Koloskov, believes that the accusations against Qatar “aren’t worth paying attention.”

“One has to understand that it’s the British, who are kicking up a racket. Previously, they tried to bite Russia and even Spain. And now it’s Qatar’s turn,” he told the Sport-Express newspaper.

Back in 2010, England fought for the right to stage the 2018 World Cup, but was disappointed to lose the bid to Russia.

The election of the 2022 World Cup host took place at the same time, with Qatar topping the US in second-place 14-8 in the fourth round of the vote.

“Three years have passed since the election. If they had some proof [against Qatar] they would’ve put it on the table long ago. It means – they have nothing,” Koloskov stressed.

Qatar is the smallest country by area and the second smallest by population (just over 2 million) ever to have been awarded a FIFA World Cup.

In mid-May, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, said that “it’s too hot in summer” in Qatar and that it was a “mistake” to decide playing the tournament in such heat.

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