Blatter accuses Bin Hammam of introducing Qatar bagman in FIFA bribery scandal
World soccer body FIFA president Sepp Blatter of Switzerland accused Asian Football Confederation chief Mohammed Bin Hammam, a Qatari national, of introducing Qatar’s bagman in the alleged Qatari bribing of FIFA executive committees to win their votes for the awarding of the 2022 World Cup.
Mr. Blatter’s accusation aims to undermine Mr. Bin Hammam, who is challenging the FIFA chief in presidential elections schedule for the end of this month on a platform that calls for greater transparency in the soccer body.
By linking Mr. Bin Hammam closer to the bagman than the AFC chief has acknowledged until now, Mr. Blatter also tightened the screws on Qatar, which has so far responded defensively to the allegation with categorical denials.
Mr. Blatter made his allegations to reporters in South Africa after winning the support of four of Africa’s five soccer associations for his election campaign.
Mr. Blatter suggested that Amadou Diallo, a former Guinean FIFA employee based in Paris and the alleged go-between in the bribing of two FIFA executive committee members, Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou and fellow FIFA executive committee member Jacques Anouma, was a whistle blower.
Mr. Diallo’s name was disclosed after the British newspaper The Sunday Times said in a letter to a British parliamentary committee investigating soccer governance that it had evidence that an unidentified fixer had made the payments of $1.5 million each to Mr. Hayatou and Mr. Anouma on behalf of Qatar. It is not clear whether the whistle blower working with the Times is Mr. Diallo or another person.
Mr. Diallo free-lanced from 2001 to 2007 for FIFA's Goal Bureau, which is headed by Mr. Bin Hammam and supports football development projects. He was paid out of Mr. Bin Hammam’s budget.
Mr. Blatter said he had asked the Times for the evidence but had yet to receive it.
The FIFA president suggested earlier that the person who had aided The Sunday Times investigation into FIFA corruption was a former Qatar bid committee employee who has been invited to provide evidence to FIFA.
Insideworldfootball.com reported that the employee had laid down conditions for his testimony through the offices of a London law firm.
Mr. Bin Hammam has acknowledged that Mr. Diallo is a friend of his but denied that the Guinean had ever been employed by Qatar. Mr. Bin Hammam has also categorically dismissed charges that Qatar had violated any rules or laws in its successful campaign to win the hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
Mr. Blatter said last week that he could not rule out annulations of the December 2011 FIFA executive committee vote that awarded the tournament to Qatar if indeed there was evidence that Qatar had engaged in bribery.
Pointing fingers at Mr. Bin Hammam, Mr. Blatter said that he “knew Diallo because he was around before we started with the Goal project, he was brought in by Bin Hammam. He's everywhere this guy.”
Mr. Blatter went on to accuse Mr. Diallo of being a whistle blower, but stopped short of saying that he was the person who had aided The Sunday Times investigation that led to the allegations of Qatari bribery.
“There are those who have left FIFA, directly or indirectly, and they are now whistleblowers all around the world, not only now but also before. This is a question of character. So ask Diallo if he's happy in his position, what he's doing. He's a small, nice, smiling guy, always smiling,” Mr. Blatter said.
(James M. Dorsey is a senior researcher at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. He can be reached via email at: [email protected])