LONDON: New allegations about secret payments ahead of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid success have been unearthed by The Sunday Times writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The newspaper says it has obtained millions of secret documents – emails, letters and bank transfers – linking the disgraced former Asia president and FIFA exco member Mohamed Bin Hammam to $5m-worth of payments to officials.

These payments are linked by the newspaper to the World Cup vote though Bin Hammam was also preparing to bid for the FIFA presidency; only the members of the executive committee voted for the World Cup hosting in December 2010 but the entire congress of national associations voted for the presidency in May 2011.

Qatari Bin Hammam was banned from football for life over bribery accusations, which he denied, concerning the presidential election.

In March this year the Daily Telegraph reported a company owned by Bin Hammam had paid Trinidad’s Jack Warner, another former FIFA vice-president, and his family more than £1m. Payments were claimed to have been made shortly after Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

Later this writer was among three sources who revealed a plot among the FIFA ‘old guard’ to try in vain to halt an inquiry into the 2018/2022 World Cup votes by ethics investigator Michael Garcia.

** Pieth claims ‘Latin plot’ against Garcia’s Qatar quiz —

Qatar 2022 and Bin Hammam have always denied he lobbied for the bid. But emails obtained by The Sunday Times and seen by the BBC, reportedly suggest Bin Hammam was lobbying a year before the decision. Whether this was for Qatar or his presidential bid is not known.

However his activities will arouse particular concerns for beaten bid rivals such as Australia, Japan and South Korea which – as members of the Asian confederation – had a right to expect that Bin Hammam, as AFC president, to behave in an even-handed manner with all of them.

The United States was the other bidder for the 2022 finals.

According to the BBC the documents also show “how Bin Hammam was making payments direct to football officials in Africa to allegedly buy their support for Qatar in the contest.”

Although the vast majority of the officials did not have a vote, the Sunday Times alleges Bin Hammam’s strategy was to win a groundswell of support for the Qatari bid which would then influence the four African FIFA exco members.

Bin Hammam had excellent and supportive links within Africa thanks, in part, to his role at the head of the committee dealing with Goal development grants.

More specifically concerning Qatar, The Sunday Times says it has documents which prove Bin Hammam paid €305,000 to cover the legal expenses of Reynald Temari, another former FIFA executive committee member.

** Plot against Garcia stopped in its tracks –

Temarii, presideng of the Oceania confederation, was unable to vote in the contest as he had already been suspended by FIFA after being trapped by a Sunday Times sting asking bogus American bid officials for money in return for his support.

The paper now alleges that Bin Hammam provided him with financial assistance to allow him to appeal against the FIFA suspension, delaying his removal from the executive committee and blocking his deputy David Chung from voting in the 2022 election.

Chung’s vote would almost certainly have been cast for Australia.

Bribery case

The newspaper also makes new allegations about the relationship between Bin Hammam and Warner.

Warner quit FIFA and football 2011 over the Bin Hammam bribery case. But the BBC says the paper claims evidence that $1.6m was paid by Bin Hammam to Warner, including $450,000 in the period before the vote in which Russia was also awarded the 2018 World Cup.

As far as the FIFA leadership was concerned, Bin Hammam had been courting Warner’s support to win over the 30-plus votes of Central and North America.

Ethjics investigator Michael Garcia is undertaking an inquiry into allegations of corruption and wrongdoing during the 2018/22 decisions. He is due to meet senior officials from the Qatar 2022 organising committee in Oman on Monday.

The Qataris have always denied any wrongdoing.