The Qatar 2022 World Cup committee denied on Tuesday any wrongdoing in the face of fresh allegations that almost $2 million was paid to a senior FIFA official and his family just after the Gulf state won its controversial bid to host the tournament.
Al Arabiya News contacted the committee after an investigation by The Telegraph found that former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and his sons were paid $1.95m by a company controlled by former Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam,
A further $400,000 was allegedly paid to one of his employees.
“The 2022 Bid Committee strictly adhered to FIFA bidding regulations in compliance with their code of ethics,” the spokesman said in response to the allegations, reiterating a previous statement.
“The Supreme Committee For Delivery & Legacy and the individual involved in the 2022 Bid Committee are unaware of any allegations surrounding business dealings between private individuals.”
The FBI is now investigating Warner’s alleged links to the Qatari bid, The Telegraph reported.
The allegations were made by The Telegraph. (Image courtesy: The Telegraph)
The Telegraph also reported that Kemco, which is said to be owned by Hammam, “appeared to pay $1.2 million to Mr. Warner in 2011”. Warner’s two sons and an employee were allegedly paid an additional $1 million.
Qatar’s Hammam had once been a candidate for the FIFA presidency, but in 2011 withdrew from the race after being implicated in trying to bribe voters from the Caribbean.
A note from one of Mr Warner’s companies, Jamad, to Kemco allegedly requested $1.2 million for work carried out between 2005 and 2010, The Telegraph reported.
“The disclosures will add to concerns that some FIFA executive committee members were not impartial when they cast their votes in December 2010,” the newspaper said.
In a video, Warner was seen being questioned by The Telegraph, but declined to comment.
Warner declined to comment when questioned by the newspaper. (Image courtesy: The Telegraph)
The documents unearthed by The Telegraph raise fresh questions over Warner and Hammam, who have both faced previous allegations against them.
In 2011, Warner resigned from all posts connected to soccer after being accused of facilitating bribes to members of the Caribbean football union on behalf of Hammam.
Warner served as vice-president of FIFA for 14 years, and was one of 22 people who decided to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup.
Both officials have been in hot water previously, notes James Dorsey, author of a blog and related book entitled The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.
“One has been banned for life from involvement in football for questionable practices [Hammam], the other resigned from FIFA voluntarily to avoid investigation [Warner],” he said.
Dorsey said it was too soon to jump to conclusions about the more recent allegations against the two men.
“It’s up to investigators to find out whether these payments have anything to do with the Qatari bid,” Dorsey said.
“Whether or not these payments are related to the Qatari bid is the important question. It’s not clear what Bin Hammam’s role was, if any, in the bid,” he added.
Dorsey also speculated that Hammam’s interests and those of the Qatari officials “diverged as the bid moved forward, as they were not happy with the way he challenged FIFA President Sepp Blatter” in running for the top post in the football organization.
Qatar has faced criticism from many sides over its plan to host the 2022 World Cup. Working conditions for laborers and the country’s harsh climate have been cited by critics.
But Qatar's response to the allegations has drawn curiosity from Dorsey.
“I found the statement to be an interesting formulation. It said that those involved in the Qatari bid were unaware of allegations about private business dealings. In other words they didn't deny the business dealings but said they were unaware of any allegations.”
FIFA refused to comment on whether it would formally investigate the new claims concerning Warner and Hammam.
“FIFA has no comment to make on this matter. In principle, any evidence of potential wrongdoing can be submitted to the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee of FIFA for further investigation,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
But some commentators urged FIFA to investigate.
Simon Johnson, a senior official from England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid, urged FIFA to look into the matter.
“This is a very disturbing piece of evidence,” he told The Telegraph in a later article. “It is right and proper that FIFA fully considers the evidence that has been uncovered and that any evidence which is in any way relevant to the award of the 2018 or 2022 Fifa World Cup is made available to the investigation being conducted by Mr Michael Garcia."
Garcia, the joint chief investigator of Fifa’s ethics committee, is investigating irregularities surrounding the World Cup bidding process.SHOW MORE