Qatar has said it is confident it will keep the 2022 World Cup after new allegations by a UK newspaper that a Qatari actively aided the country’s bid, using royal connections and the country’s energy wealth to influence FIFA members.
The Qatar 2022 committee said on Sunday that it stood by a statement last week denying any wrongdoing, and insisted that Mohamed Bin Hammam, the official at the centre of the claims, “played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 bid committee”.
The Sunday Times newspaper said that Hammam, a longtime Qatari member of FIFA’s executive committee, arranged government-level talks for a Thai FIFA executive to discuss a natural gas sale “potentially worth tens of millions of dollars to Thailand”.
|Hammam failed in a bid for the FIFA presidency in 2011|
The newspaper also stated that Hammam organised meetings between nine FIFA executives, including its president Sepp Blatter, and members of the Qatar royal family, and that he distributed $2.8m from a slush-fund to Asian football officials.
A FIFA investigation into the winning bids from Qatar, and Russia in 2018, is expected to finish this week. The organisation’s ethics investigator, Michael Garcia, plans to deliver his findings by July.
The fresh allegations were followed by a call by Sony, a principal sponsor of the World Cup, for a thorough investigation.
“As a Fifa partner, we expect these allegations to be investigated appropriately. We continue to expect Fifa to adhere to its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play across all aspects of its operations,” the Japanese company said.
Adidas, another FIFA partner, said on Sunday that the “negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners”.
Qatar last week denied allegations by the paper that Hammam paid $5m to football officials to build support for the bid.
Hammam failed in a bid for the FIFA presidency in 2011, and has since been expelled from FIFA for corruption in a separate matter.