WATCH ABOVE: A British newspaper says a former FIFA executive committee member shelled out five million dollars to build consensus behind the bid. Now some say it’s time to find a new host country. Mike Drolet reports.
CAIRO, Egypt – FIFA vice-president and African football head Issa Hayatou is denying allegations that he received favours for voting for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.
In a statement, the Confederation of African Football called the corruption allegations made against Hayatou by The Sunday Times newspaper “fanciful” and “ridiculous.”
The British newspaper alleges that banned former Qatari official Mohammed bin Hammam targeted dozens of African football leaders with cash gifts, hospitality and other favours to influence the World Cup vote in 2010.
Among the denials, Hayatou says bin Hammam did not arrange treatment for him at a private clinic in return for support.
Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee in 2011 for receiving money from former World Cup marketing company ISL.
The Sunday Times said a “senior FIFA insider” had provided “hundreds of millions of emails, accounts and other documents” detailing payments totalling $5 million that bin Hammam allegedly gave football officials to build support for the bid.
Bin Hammam was a member of FIFA’s executive committee for 16 years and key power broker until being expelled in 2012 for financial corruption during his time as Asian Football Confederation president.
The Qatar 2022 organizing committee’s statement on Sunday stressed that bin Hammam “played no official or unofficial role in the bid committee.”
However, most FIFA executive committee voters in December 2010 were bin Hammam’s longtime colleagues. Among them, Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago have since resigned while under investigation for corruption.
“The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid,” the Qatari statement said, adding “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 Sunday Times alleged that bin Hammam paid for cash gifts, hospitality and legal fees for some FIFA colleagues, including Warner, and dozens of African football leaders.
FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia has received the new evidence to help his investigation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests, the newspaper reported.
Garcia was scheduled to meet with Qatari bid officials on Monday in Oman.
“We are co-operating fully with Mr. Garcia’s on-going investigation and remain totally confident that any objective enquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly,” the Qatari statement said.
FIFA declined comment on Sunday about the reports, which revived calls for the 2022 World Cup vote to be re-run. Qatar defeated the United States in a final round after Australia, Japan and South Korea were eliminated.
Instead, football’s governing body suggested in a statement to “please kindly contact the office” of Garcia’s law firm in New York City.
The law firm, Kirkland and Ellis, did not respond immediately to requests for comment, or to confirm Garcia’s meetings with Qatar officials.
Garcia and his investigating team have been travelling across the world meeting officials who worked for the nine candidates ahead of the December 2010 votes. Russia won the 2018 hosting poll.
FIFA board member Jim Boyce, who joined in 2011 after bin Hammam was initially suspended, said Sunday that he could support a re-vote if bribery could be proved.
“If Garcia’s report comes up and his recommendations are that wrongdoing happened for that vote for the 2022 World Cup, I certainly as a member of the executive committee would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a re-vote,” Boyce told the BBC’s Sportsweek radio program.
Garcia is scheduled to submit his report to FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert of Germany, who can recommend sanctions.
© The Canadian Press, 2014