New corruption claims over Fifa World Cup
GRAHAM DUNBAR AND MICHAEL FIELD
Organisers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are denying fresh allegations of wrongdoing after a British newspaper report questioned the integrity of choosing the emirate as tournament host.
The Sunday Times said a ''senior Fifa insider'' had provided ''hundreds of millions of emails, accounts and other documents'' detailing payments totaling $5 million that Qatari official Mohamed bin Hammam allegedly gave football officials to build support for the bid.
It quoted documents that purporting to show how bin Hammam worked with Tahitian Reynard Temarii, then president of the Oceania Football Confederation, to block any chance of Australia winning the right to host the cup.
The story said Qatar ''paid out at least 305,000 Euro (NZ$500,000) in legal and private detective fees for Reynald Temarii, the disgraced Oceania Fifa executive committee Exco) member, after he was suspended for telling undercover reporters that he had been offered US$12 million for his vote.
Temarii refused to resign as an Exco member, thus preventing his planned replacement from voting for Qatar's rival Australia in 2022 and England in 2018.
Overall bin Hammam is said to have had a secret slush fund to make payments totalling more than US$5 million (NZ$5.9 million) ''to create a groundswell of support for Qatar's plan to take world football by storm''.
In a statement, the Qatar 2022 organising committee's statement stressed that bin Hammam ''played no official or unofficial role in the bid committee.''
However, most FIFA executive committee voters in December 2010 were bin Hammam's longtime colleagues.
Among them, Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago have since resigned while under investigation for corruption.
''The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid,'' the Qatari statement said, adding ''we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter.''
The Sunday Times alleged that bin Hammam paid for cash gifts, hospitality and legal fees for some FIFA colleagues, including Warner, and dozens of African football leaders.
FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia has received the new evidence to help his investigation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests, the newspaper reported.
Garcia was scheduled to meet with Qatari bid officials on Monday in Oman.
''We are cooperating fully with Mr. Garcia's on-going investigation and remain totally confident that any objective enquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly,'' the Qatari statement said.
FIFA declined to comment about the reports, which revived calls for the 2022 World Cup vote to be re-run. Qatar defeated the United States in a final round after Australia, Japan and South Korea were eliminated.
Garcia and his investigating team have been travelling across the world meeting officials who worked for the nine candidates ahead of the December 2010 votes. Russia won the 2018 hosting poll.
FIFA board member Jim Boyce, who joined in 2011 after Bin Hammam was initially suspended, said Sunday that he could support a re-vote if bribery could be proved.
''If Garcia's report comes up and his recommendations are that wrongdoing happened for that vote for the 2022 World Cup, I certainly as a member of the executive committee would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a re-vote,'' Boyce told the BBC's Sportsweek radio program.
Garcia is scheduled to submit his report to FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eckert of Germany, who can recommend sanctions.
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