Qatar 2022 World Cup Organisers Rocked by Bribery Allegations

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Confederation of African Football president Hayatou is alleged to have been paid a bribe by a fixer employed by the Qatar bid (Getty)
(WFI) Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup finals has been rocked by allegations that it paid $1.5million bribes to FIFA Executive committee members, Jacques Anouma and Issa Hayatou.

British MP Damian Collins told a parliamentary inquiry into football governance that it had received evidence from the Sunday Times newspaper that the pair were paid bribes by a fixer employed by the Qatar bid.

The Sunday Times, in written evidence, also claim that a third Ex-Co member, Amos Adamu, was set to receive the same amount, but was prevented from doing so after the Nigerian was banned from the executive following an earlier story by the newspaper.

Adamu received a three-year ban from football last November for asking the undercover reporters, posing as American lobbyists, for $600,000 in exchange for his vote.

MPs today used a session where Qatar bid strategist, Mike Lee, came under questioning to read out evidence submitted by the newspaper.

As well as the alleged bribes, there were claims that the Qatar offered Ex-Co members funds for unspecified projects.

“Another allegation that was put was that another Amadou Diakite, a former FIFA Ex-Cco member, was quoted as saying that Ex-Cco members were offered between $1-1.2 million for “projects” by Qatar,” said committee chairman John Whittingdale.

Lee said that he had “no reason to believe” the allegations put forward.

“On London 2012 or Rio 2016 or whatever bid campaign I have worked on, I personally have never witnessed any improper behaviour - and that’s categorical,” said Lee, the director of communications on the London Olympic bid.

Qatar’s Local Organising Committee declined to comment when contacted by INSIDER.

Shortly after the hearing, MPs published evidence submitted by the Sunday Times reporters, Jonathan Calvert and Claire Newell, who claimed that FIFA had ignored evidence that they had put forward to its ethics committee last year.

A senior Parliamentarian, Ivan Lewis, also wrote to FIFA demanding an investigation based on this evidence but received no reply.

“Our own inquiries uncovered allegations of irregularities in the voting process, both past and present,” wrote Calvert and Newell.

“They include allegations that Qatar, the winning bidder for 2022, had been offering members of the FIFA Executive Committee large amounts of money for their votes.

“The allegations were and remain unproven, but we believe they were credible because they were made by people who held or had held positions in FIFA (and later supported by a whistleblower
Qatar 2022 strategist Mike Lee (Vero)
from within the Qatar bid).”

Within their evidence, they include a transcript of one of their undercover conversations with former FIFA Ex-Co member Ismail Bhamjee in which he claims that the African Ex-Co members would personally get between $250,000-$500,000 “on top” of the other inducements.

Diakite, the reporters claim, told them it was “normal” for a third of financial inducements to be paid up front with the remainder if a bid was successful.

Their evidence was supplemented by a whistleblower from the Qatar bid who spoke to them after the bid was successful. The whistleblower made the allegations about bribes paid to Anouma and Hayatou, saying that they nominally made to their federations.

The whistleblower said that no questions would be asked about how the money was used.

“It was said in such a way that ‘we are giving it to you’. It was going to their federation. Basically, if they took it into their pocket, we don’t give a jack,” their source said.

The Sunday Times said that the whistleblower’s allegations “raise questions about the validity of Qatar’s winning bid".

MPs called on FIFA to investigate and said that they would be submitting evidence to Zurich.

“I feel very strongly that FIFA have to investigate this at a greater depth than they have before, because these allegations seem to be not just about 2018 but 2022 as well,” said Damien Collins.

Blatter promises prompt action
In Zurich, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that FIFA would respond once it was in possession of any further evidence of bribery claims.

“There is a new round of information, give us time to digest that and start the investigation by asking for evidence on what has been said,” Blatter said.

“I repeat, we must have the evidence and we will react immediately against all those in breach of the ethics code rules.”

With one eye on his ongoing presidential campaign, the Swiss sought to distance himself from his Ex-Co colleagues.

“I am the president and I have my own conscience, I can only answer for myself, I cannot answer for the members of my committee,” Blatter said.

“They are not elected by the same Congress that I am elected, they are coming from [elsewhere], so I cannot say they are all angels or all devils.”

By INSIDER’s James Corbett

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