A former member of FIFA’s executive committee has been accused of making payments totaling $5m to senior football officials in return for support for Qatar’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.
The Sunday Times newspaper said it has obtained millions of secret documents proving that Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari who used to be FIFA vice president, was lobbying on his country’s behalf ahead of the vote in December 2010.
The newspaper alleged that Bin Hammam made dozens of payments to top football officials in Africa as well as Reynald Temarii and Jack Warner, the former FIFA executive committee members for Oceania and CONCACAF.
The Times said that Bin Hamman declined to respond to the allegations and that members of Qatar’s bid committee denied any link to the former FIFA official, saying he played no secret role in their campaign.
Bin Hammam is no longer a committee member of world football’s governing body after being caught up in a corruption scandal surrounding his failed campaign for its presidency in 2011.
The Times alleges that he exploited his position at the heart of FIFA when he was an executive committee member to help to secure votes from members of its 24-man ruling committee who helped Qatar win the right to host the World Cup.
Exploiting his influence
According to the newspaper, Bin Hammam used 10 slush funds controlled by his private company and cash handouts to make dozens of payments of up to $200,000 into accounts controlled by the presidents of 30 African football associations who influenced how the continent’s four executive members would vote.
The newspaper says the documents show that Bin Hammam paid out at least $415,000 in legal and private detective fees for Temarii after he was suspended for telling undercover reporters that he had been offered $12 million for his vote.
Bin Hammam’s help allowed him to appeal the suspension and prevent his planned replacement from voting for Australia in the vote, the Sunday Times claimed.
Bin Hammam is also accused of funnelling more than $1.6 million directly into bank accounts controlled by Warner, including $450,000 before the vote.
Warner resigned from football duties, including his 28-year membership of FIFA’s committee, in June 2011 while involved in a bribery scandal linked to Bin Hammam’s campaign for FIFA president.
The Times also said Bin Hammam paid $800,000 to the Ivory Coast FA, whose executive committee member Jacques Anouma agreed to ‘push very hard the bid of Qatar,’ and signed off on two payments of $400,000 each to the federations of two other voters.
Answer to accusations
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s released the following statement in response to the allegations:
“The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
“In regard to the latest allegations from The Sunday Times, we say again that Mohamed Bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 Bid Committee. As was the case with every other member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, our bid team had to convince Mr. Bin Hammam of the merits of our bid.”
“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.”
“Following today’s newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrong-doing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking in to this matter. The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup.”