LONDON: Damian Collins, the MP who has harassed FIFA down the years, believes that a full investigationh of the 2022 World Cup bid scandal should be undertaken by the Serious Fraud Office or the United States’ FBI.
Collins, who used Parliamentary privilege in 2011 to make allegations that bribes helped secure Qatar the tournament, said those claims remained unanswered.
He described Hans-Joachim Eckert’s clearing of Russia and Qatar as the next two World Cup hosts as a “whitewash.”
Collins said: “It is a whitewash. FIFA has investigated itself and not surprisingly found itself not guilty.
“The truth remains that the serious allegations of bribery, of payments from bidding countries to senior FIFA executives, that’s never properly been investigated by FIFA. The truth is they just don’t know and yet they are prepared to say they are not guilty, there’s no problem here.”
Collins criticised the investigation for failing to interview Mohamed bin Hammam, the former president of the Asian football confederation, who was at the centre of some of the allegations.
While FIFA claim no corruption has taken place with the Qatar or Russia bids, it did find fault with the tender made by the Football Association for the 2018 World Cup.
Collins believed FIFA has used that finding to deflect from serious allegations elsewhere.
He said: “I think this is a massive smokescreen to deflect our attention from the main issues, which was the Qatar bid and the Russia bid. They didn’t interview Mohamed bin Hammam, who is the man at the heart of the Qatar bid, a man banned from football because of corruption charges.
“They didn’t even visit Russia, this was a very limited enquiry and they’ve not been able to request detailed bank statements, requests for documents to test the serious allegations of bribery and corruption that were made.
“Instead they chose to pick up on a few pieces from the England bid. Now England must answer for that, but the meat of this was the Qatar and Russia World Cup and they’ve simply not investigated it properly.
“The Serious Fraud Office have reiterated to me that they will act if it’s clear they have jurisdiction to act, so if coming out of the Garcia Report there is clear evidence of meetings that took place within their jurisdiction which they could investigate, I hope they follow up on that.
“I believe that FIFA should make the full Garcia Report public. If they won’t publish it in full then they should certainly share it with law enforcement agencies. The SFO I believe should look into this and of course the FBI in America already are.”
Collins is adamant FIFA president Sepp Blatter has a case to answer – and is not prepared to let the matter rest.
He added: “I think we should all be really angry about what FIFA have done. They way they’ve gone about this, the way they are trying to con people with this report. They should publish the whole report.
“There are people I know on the executive committee of FIFA who are arguing for that and I think Sepp Blatter is blocking it personally, people can draw their own conclusions to why that may be, but FIFA must publish the report in full.
“I believe if they don’t have the power or the will to fully investigate the bribery allegations, whether very large sums of money were paid into the bank accounts of FIFA officials, they should hand it over to the Fraud Office or the FBI, who do have the judicial power to do that.”
# # # #