LONDON/ZURICH: A new file of documents concerning aspects of Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup finals has been sent to FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The file was compiled by The Sunday Times, prompting a response that the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee “refutes absolutely” the allegations in an article arising out of those documents.
It was The Sunday Times which, in late 2010, published the original evidence which led to suspensions for half a dozen members and former members of the world football federation’s executive committee.
Publication was attacked by Qatar 2022 as “malicious and reckless*.”
FIFA ran the bidding competition for the 2018 and 2022 finals tournaments simultaneously. The strategy, adopted largely for commrcial marketing reasons, turned out to be a political and promotional disaster.
The eventual vote in the FIFA exco on December 1, 2010, saw Russia was awarded 2018 and 2022 go to Qatar.
The furore surrounding the bidding campaigns and subsequent 2011 FIFA presidential election prompted the present governance reform process which is expected to be completed and endorsed by the world football federation’s Congress next May.
The latest issue raised by The Sunday Times focuses on a claim that Qatar bid officials had offered $1m (£630,000) to the son of FIFA exco member Amos Adamu to sponsor a high-profile gala dinner during the World Cup finals in South Africa in July 2010.
A report in today’s edition of the newspaper quotes Qatar 2022 officials as having confirmed that discussions took place but insisting that the they “had later backed out of the deal after considering the ‘relevant Fifa rules.’”
The reported that: “The Sunday Times has complied with an official request by FIFA to hand over a cache of emails, invoices and documents relating to the legends’ dinner.”
It reported a FIFA reponse that the documents had been “immediately forwarded . . . to Michael J Garcia, independent ethics committee chairman of the investigatory branch. It will be for Michael Garcia to analyse the documents and decide on any potential next steps.”
Garcia was appointed this past summer after the expansion of the FIFA ethics committee operation.
Theo Zwanziger, German member of the FIFA exco, was one of several voices suggesting that Garcia might examine issues arising from the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting awards.
One strand of the FIFA reform process alters the way in which World Cup hosts may be chosen. In future the exco will ‘only’ produce a shortlist of candidates whose names must go before the full 209-member Congress of member football associations.
Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee Official Statement*
We refute absolutely the allegations published by The Sunday Times. The article is presented in a manner that suggests an ‘offer’ was made to a certain individual by the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee. 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 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.’
No agreement was signed or otherwise concluded and absolutely no payments of any kind were made. No member of the Bid Committee attended the aforementioned dinner.
All of the above was made unequivocally clear in writing to The Sunday Times before publication. The way that The Sunday Times has acted today is both malicious and reckless in the extreme.
We have maintained close contact with FIFA on this matter and are confident that any documents received by FIFA from The Sunday Times will merely highlight the truth, as outlined above.
The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee 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.
Our focus remains on delivering on our bid promises and staging an amazing 2022 FIFA World Cup™. We are investing substantially and making good progress with preparations for the tournament, and look forward to welcoming the world to Qatar in 2022.’
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