~~ So many questions…. so little answers.
Fifa has confirmed that the recently appointed chief investigator of its ethics committee will look into new corruption allegations surrounding Qatar’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar, which hugely outspent its rivals on its campaign to win the right to host the 2022 tournament in December 2010, had discussions about a $1m sponsorship deal for a gala dinner organised by the son of a Fifa executive committee member later banned from football for three years.
The Sunday Times, which conducted the undercover investigation that led to the Nigerian Amos Adamu and other Fifa officials being banned in the runup to the vote on the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, revealed that Qatar’s bidding committee entered talks to sponsor a gala dinner arranged by his son, Samson, on the eve of the South Africa World Cup in 2010.
The newspaper claims Qatar made arrangements to sponsor the dinner but did not go through with the deal after taking into account Fifa’s rules on payments to executive committee members. The gala dinner, featuring 20 African footballing legends and senior football officials in Johannesburg for the World Cup, eventually cost around a fifth of the seven-figure sum originally discussed. It remains unclear how it was ultimately funded.
Much, Much More after the Jump…….
Fifa said that it was contacted with the allegations on Friday and the Sunday Times immediately provided all evidence relating to them. “After receiving these documents, Fifa has immediately forwarded them to Michael J Garcia, independent ethics committee chairman of the investigatory branch,” a spokesman said. “It will be for Michael Garcia to analyse the documents and decide on any potential next steps.”
The Qatar 2022 organising committee accused the Sunday Times of being “malicious and reckless” in its presentation of the discussions but admitted that they took place. “The truth is that our bid committee, after careful consideration, opted not to sign any agreement with the individual concerned and had no part whatsoever in the African Legends Dinner event, financially or otherwise,” it claimed.
“It is correct that such a project was the subject of discussions, that preliminary communications were exchanged and that a draft agreement came into existence. However, upon due consideration being given to all the circumstances of this particular case – and especially to the relevant Fifa rules relating to the obligations of bid committees – a decision was taken by the Qatar 2022 bid committee not to pursue any involvement in the African Legends Dinner.”
Qatar won the race to host the 2022 World Cup despite its small size and high summer temperatures following a lavishly funded campaign that included a string of deals with big-name ambassadors and contracts such as that to sponsor the 2010 Confederation of African Football congress.
The Qatar 2022 organising committee insisted on Sunday it “operated to the highest standards of integrity during the bidding process for the 2018/2022 Fifa World Cups, strictly adhering to all Fifa rules and regulations for bidding nations” and said it was making “good progress” with preparations for the tournament.
A succession of senior figures, led by the Uefa president Michel Platini, have lobbied for the tournament to be moved to winter despite the fact the bid was won on the basis of a summer World Cup.
Garcia, an American lawyer who was appointed to run the investigatory arm of Fifa’s ethics committee as part of an overhaul instigated by Mark Pieth, chairman of Fifa’s independent governance committee, has an overflowing intray.
Pieth’s appointment was part of an attempt by Fifa president Sepp Blatter to respond to an avalanche of corruption allegations engulfing the organisation in the wake of the World Cup vote and a subsequent presidential election overwhelmed by claims of bribery.
Garcia has said he will look into the opaque and controversial bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively, and the issues raised by the longstanding ISL case.
Swiss court documents, recently published by Fifa, confirmed the now defunct marketing agency paid millions of dollars in bribes to the former president Joao Havelange and former Fifa executive committee member Ricardo Teixeira.
At the same time as Garcia’s appointment, the German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert was selected to chair the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee. In September, Eckert said that Blatter should play his part in cleaning up Fifa or resign – prompting an angry response from the Fifa president.