PARIS: French financial prosecutors are considering whether to launch an investigation of their own into the award of the 2022 World Cup finals to Qatar writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The vote, by the executive committee of world football federation FIFA, was undertaken on December 2, 2010, minutes after the award of the 2018 finals in Russia.
Qatar’s lack of football tradition and infrastructure as well as climate prompted a controversy which still bubbles and will continue because of FIFA’s subsequent decision to turn the season on its head and switch the funals to the winter of 2022.
A decisive role in the decision was taken by Michel Platini, then president of European federation UEFA and a FIFA vice-president.
Platini, currently serving a worldwide football ban for ethics breaches, ws a late convert to the Qatar cause after a meeting with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the future Emir of the Gulf state.
He would be first in line for interview if a French investigation goes ahead.
Eliane Houlette, the financial national prosecutor, discussed the prospect in answer to a specific question in a French radio interview at the weekend.
She said: “We are think about [an investigation]. We have a number of indications rather encourage us to investigate.”
Asked about the role of Platini, she said: “If there is to be an investigation then probably the role of Mr Platini will be essential though the investigation will not be focused on Mr Platini.”
An investigation into the vote was launched last year by the Office of the Swiss Attorney-General at whose behest the French authorities raided the French federation offices in Paris in March.
The focus of inquiry was a payment of SFr2m by FIFA in 2011 to Platini on the authorisation of Sepp Blatter, the then president. Blatter is currently appealing to the Court of Arbitration of Sport against a long-term ethics ban of his own.
Houlette said that allegations of corruption surrounding major sports events had become a matter of major concern. Events around which suspicion had been aroused, she said, included this year’s Rio Olympics, the 2022 Games in Tokyo as well as the next three world athletics championships in London, Doha and Eugene, Oregon.