By DAN KARELL
Qatar’s winning 2022 World Cup bid is under fresh criticism after the latest scandal broke, which includes allegations of bribes paid in exchange for votes.
Serial briber Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari national who was formerly the president of the Asian Football Confederation, a FIFA vice president, and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, is alleged to have a number of payments totaling $5 million USD in an effort to gain support for Qatar’s World Cup bid, according to a blockbuster report (behind paywall) from the London Sunday Times.
The Sunday Times say they have “obtained millions of secret documents” including e-mails, letters, and bank statements, that are proof that Bin Hammam helped buy the World Cup vote for Qatar.
While the Qatar 2022 Local Organizing Committee and Bin Hammam himself stated in the past that he wasn’t working on the nation’s behalf, the report seems to prove otherwise, including payments that began at least one year prior to the infamous vote on Dec. 2, 2010.
The documents obtained by the Sunday Times reportedly show that Bin Hammam made payments both to buy votes and also ensure a vote against the 2022 Qatar bid was not cast.
In a bid to gain support from the four African FIFA ExCo members, Bin Hammam allegedly made “dozens of payments totaling $200,000” into the bank accounts of presidents of more than 30 African confederations. These payments came from at least ten slush funds controlled by his private company or family accounts as well as other cash handouts at events held in Qatar.
Another allegation is that Bin Hammam sent more than $1.6 million into bank accounts held by disgraced former CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Jack Warner, including at least $450,000 prior to the vote. The Daily Telegraph reported last March that they held documents alleging Bin Hammam also paid Warner and his family more than $1.2 million after Qatar won the vote.
Thirdly, Bin Hammam is alleged to have paid for the legal fees ($350,000) for the then-suspended Reynald Tamarii of Oceania, which kept Tamarii’s deputy David Chung from voting for England for 2018 and Australia for 2022, according to the report.
Tamarii is a former FIFA ExCo member from Tahiti who had been banned by FIFA from voting in the World Cup elections in 2010 after the Sunday Times had captured him asking for money in exchange for his vote.
By paying Tamarii’s legal fees, Bin Hammam allowed Tamarii to file an appeal, meaning that the deputy wouldn’t be able to vote on Tamarii’s behalf. It’s unknown whether a vote for Australia for 2022 would have changed the outcome, since FIFA doesn’t publish the results of the World Cup votes.
Bin Hammam was given a life-time ban by FIFA in 2011 after he was charged with offering bribes along with Warner to members of the Caribbean Football Union in exchange for his vote in that year’s FIFA presidential election. Bin Hammam withdrew from the elections just a day before an ethics hearing would meet to discuss the charges and evidence, which was reported by some presidents of the CFU itself.
After appealing to the Court of Arbitration and Sport in April 2012, Bin Hammam’s life-time ban was annulled, though the court said that the annulment didn’t necessarily declare Bin Hammam’s innocence, only that FIFA did not have enough evidence to give him a life-time ban. Since that decision Bin Hammam has mostly stayed out of the spotlight, retiring from his soccer administration life.
When contacted by the Sunday Times, Bin Hammam’s son Hamad Al Abdulla declined to comment on the allegations against his father.
FIFA also declined to comment to the scathing report.
The World Cup bids for 2018 and 2022 are both under investigation by former U.S. attorney for the southern district of NewYork, Michael Garcia, as part of FIFA’s ethics commission to uncover and clean out corruption. Garcia and his associates have been spending the last 12 months interviewing members of every nation’s bidding committees who were involved in running for the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.
The Sunday Times stated that they shared their information with Garcia. Garcia is expected to meet with members of Qatar’s bidding committee this week but it’s unknown if these new allegations will delay or postpone those meetings.
Qatar’s World Cup bid has come under intense scrutiny almost since day one, with allegations of corruption and bribes to the dangers of playing the tournament in the summer, where the temperatures can rise as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
Both FIFA president Sepp Blatter and U.S. Soccer Federation president and FIFA ExCo member Sunil Gulati have stated in the past that the 2022 World Cup will without a doubt be taking place Qatar. It remains to be seen whether the new allegations change their and other ExCo member’s minds.
What do you think of this report? Surprised at the information coming out? Think that FIFA could re-think their decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup? Do you see FIFA doing anything about these allegations?
Share your thoughts below.