More dirt alleged over Qatar's World Cup bid

MICHAEL FIELD AND TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 03/06/2014

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The Oceania Football Confederation faces further embarrassment after fresh revelations linking its former president to a controversy over the awarding of World Cup hosting rights to Qatar.

OFC officials were unavailable for comment yesterday on a report in London's Sunday Times alleging former OFC president Reynald Temarii received NZ$500,000 towards legal fees and private detective costs from Qatari interests seeking support for their successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup finals.

Messages from Fairfax Media to OFC officials, including secretary-general Tai Nicholas, went unanswered yesterday. Current OFC president David Chung, who succeeded Temarii in January 2011, could not be contacted in Port Moresby.

New Zealand Football officials were also unavailable for comment.

Temarii, a former French football professional who was once Tahiti's minister of sport, resigned his OFC role after being caught in a 2010 sting by undercover reporters posing as lobbyists.

As the OFC member on Fifa's powerful executive committee, he allegedly sought NZ$3 million for a sports academy in Auckland.

Temarii, 46, was stood down by Fifa pending an investigation.

The Sunday Times revealed this week that it had a "huge email cache" of secrets over how Qatar won the right to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

One of its 11 pages of reporting - sub-headed "The Pacific Link" - is devoted to the OFC and Temarii.

The Sunday Times, quoting from what it says are "millions of documents", showed how Qatar's top football official, Mohamed bin Hammam, worked with Temarii to block any chance of Australia winning the right to host the 2022 finals.

Bin Hammam is said to have had a secret slush fund to make payments totalling more than US$5m (NZ$5.9m) "to create a groundswell of support for Qatar's plan to take world football by storm".

The paper says it will publish extensive details on how Qatar used its money to "buy the World Cup".

One of its front page bullet points notes Qatar "paid out at least € 305,000 (NZ$500,000) in legal and private detective fees for Temarii after he was suspended by Fifa.

He was cleared of corruption charges by Fifa's ethics committee, but was found to have breached Fifa loyalty and confidentiality regulations. He was suspended from the executive committee for a year and fined 5000 Swiss francs (NZ$6600).

Temarii denied the "calumnious allegations" by the paper in 2010, lodged an appeal and refused to resign as an executive committee member, thus preventing his planned replacement, Chung, from voting for Qatar's rival Australia in 2022 and England in 2018.

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Chung confirmed at the time the OFC would not have a voice at the voting table for the December 2010 vote, "but fully respects the decision made by Reynald Temarii and his legal team under difficult circumstances".

In its Pacific Link page, headlined "South Seas shimmy protected Qatar bid", the Sunday Times says Temarii is revealed in the files as playing "an extraordinary role" in Bin Hammam's secret campaign.

Temarii was flown to Doha where he met the emir.

But he was secretly exposed by an undercover Sunday Times reporter in Auckland. Temarii allegedly told the reporter he had been offered $12 million for his votes.

The Sunday Times says their documents showed Bin Hamman "leapt into action and played a pivotal role in Temarii's decision" just two days ahead of the vote, to appeal against his suspension.

"Leaked emails show the hectic activity behind the scenes as the Temarii drama was playing out in public," the paper says.

- Stuff

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