Qatar 2022 Hits Back at France Football Corruption Claims

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The front cover of today's France Football magazine (Getty)
(WFI) Qatar 2022 dismiss France Football’s allegations of corruption linked to the Gulf state’s World Cup bid and say its leaders have nothing to fear from a new FIFA investigation into its successful campaign.

Branded Qatargate, France Football today published a lengthy feature that detailed some of the bribery allegations that tarnished the Qatar bid campaign, examining if hosting rights should be withdrawn.

French media reporting of Qatargate has focused on a meeting between the then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Michel Platini and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the UEFA president’s subsequent vote for the desert nation’s bid.

It is understood there are no accusations of corruption that the 2022 World Cup organisers have not already dealt with in the aftermath of FIFA’s vote for Qatar in December 2010. Allegations of vote-buying and collusion over vote-swapping between bids were published over two years ago by British newspapers.

Qatar 2022 World Cup chief Hassan al-Thawadi has always maintained that the Gulf state won the bid race cleanly, insisting that the country did not break any FIFA rules in its big budget campaign and dismissing suggestions that Qatar paid bribes to FIFA Executive Committee members in exchange for their votes. He has previously said there is "not a shred of evidence" to support any claims of corruption.

“None of these allegations have any substance,” a Qatar 2022 spokesman told INSIDER on Tuesday, restating comments that were published in France Football.

“Our successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup was conducted in accordance with the highest moral and ethical standards and integrity from start to finish, strictly adhering to bidding rules and regulations for bidding nations.”

Last week, FIFA’s top investigator Michael J. Garcia restated his plans to re-examine the allegations of corruption that have swirled around Russia and Qatar ever since they won 2018 and 2022 hosting rights. The announcement came on Jan. 24, six months on from the formation of FIFA’s new-look ethics committee, which includes adjudicatory and investigative chambers.

“As has been publicly announced, certain allegations regarding events surrounding the bidding for the World Cup 2018 and 2022 were referred to the Ethics Committee by FIFA following media reports,” FIFA said in a statement.

“We intend to conduct a thorough review of those allegations, including the evidentiary basis for and credibility of any allegations of individual misconduct.”

FIFA's Independent Governance Committee headed by Mark Pieth previously stated in a report to FIFA that the 2018/2022 scandals were “insufficiently investigated" by its previous ethics panel.

Qatar 2022 responded, telling INSIDER: “We have always insisted that we would cooperate with any appropriate investigation, should credible evidence and facts exist, as opposed to groundless allegations.

“However, such evidence has never materialised and never will, because we won the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly.”

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson

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