Allegations of bribery in the 2022 World Cup bidding are being investigated by FIFA and could cause the organization to revote on the host for the tournament. Football officials are being accused of receiving £3 million total for supporting Qatari bid.
Michael Garcia, chief investigator for FIFA, has launched an inquiry, prompting Vice President Jim Boyce to admit that any “concrete evidence” of wrongdoings will force them to look at the host situation “very seriously.” Boyce supports a revote for host if corruption is uncovered. The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee denied the allegations in a statement on Sunday.
Mohammed bin Hammam is at the center of the investigation, as the Sunday Times claims it has obtained undisclosed documents proving Bin Hammam bribed members of FIFA to vote for Qatar in the 2022 World Cup bid. The former Asian Football Confederation president allegedly lobbied on behalf of Qatar, and the Sunday Times says the documents show that he made payments into accounts that former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner of Trinidad and the presidents of 30 football associations in Africa have control of.
Both Bin Hammam and the bid committee have denied taking part in any corrupt actions, and the committee states it is cooperating with Garcia. The committee issued a statement on Sunday insisting it always maintained integrity and high ethical standards in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Lawyers for the committee are looking into the matter, according to its statement, and the committee claimed it would do whatever is necessary to defend its integrity, asserting that Qatar obtained hosting rights because its bid was better than the opponents’, and that a Middle East World Cup was long overdue.
This is not Bin Hammam’s first brush with controversy over attempted bribery—he was banned for life from the sport for his corrupt dealings in the 2011 FIFA presidential election. The Court of Arbitration removed the ban in 2012, however, saying that there was not enough evidence. He was banned for life again that December for “conflicts of interest” while president of the AFC.
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Jim Murphy travelled to Qatar recently in response to allegations of abuse, poor conditions, and deaths of migrant employees working on World Cup infrastructure. It has been reported that last year nearly 200 Nepalese men died while working on construction projects in Qatar. Mr. Murphy also supported a potential revote, should investigation into the accusations of bribery in the World Cup against Qatar prove the rumors to be true.
In March it was reported that Warner and his family had been paid over £1 million shortly after Qatar won the bid by a company Bin Hammam owns. This claim, made by the Daily Telegraph, has not been proven.
Four other countries entered bids for 2022—Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Garcia is conducting an inquiry into that decision, as well as the 2018 bid given to Russia. He will meet with senior officials from the Qatar 2022 organizing committee on Monday in Oman. Qatar insists the Bin Hammam acted independently from the 2022 campaign and never had an official supporting role for the bid.
FIFA is under pressure to uncover any corruption, and with the investigation into both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, a revote could be possible if the bribery allegations are true. How the revote will be structured, or whether offending countries will be sanctioned has not been revealed.
By Christina Jones