The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe is urging FIFA to rerun the vote to host the 2022 World Cup, claiming that the voting process was “radically flawed” by corruption and bribery.
The call was made in a fresh report on the back of multiple hearings last year and claims that Qatari former FIFA Vice-President Mohammad bin Hammam paid large sums of money to more than 30 African football officials in order to secure the votes of the Confederation of African Football.
Last year, the UK-based Sunday Times published claims that Bin Hammam has handed out more than $5 million in expenses, cash gifts and legal fees to officials. However, the Qatar body in charge of hosting the 2022 World Cup has “vehemently denied” wrongdoing and added that Bin Hammam played no “official or unofficial role” in attempting to secure votes for the bid.
British Labour Party MP Michael Connarty, who prepared the latest report, slammed FIFA for overseeing a “farce” and “a clear whitewash.”
Connarty, who examined first-hand the documents obtained by the Sunday Times, said he believed they provided evidence of corruption. “Given the structured action of this scale and the sums involved, there can be no doubt that there was a direct correlation between these flagrant irregularities and the outcome of the vote,” he said, according to The Guardian.
He concluded “beyond all reasonable doubt” that the payments were designed to win African votes and sideline the rival Asian bids of Australia/Japan and South Korea.
Qatar 2022 organizers claim that Bin Hammam’s alleged payments were part of a goodwill campaign not related to securing the bid but rather to his own bid to win the presidency of FIFA.
The report regretted that FIFA’s Ethics Committee enquiry which uncovered “extremely dubious practices,” was not entirely published, and was “amazed at the ease with which the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee confirmed the decision to assign the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
“The claim that Qatar does not have direct responsibility for Mr Bin Hammam’s dealings should not be allowed to validate a procedure so fundamentally undermined by illegality,” the report said.
“FIFA does not yet seem capable of putting an end to corruption scandals.”
The report also called on Qatar, who have been severely criticised for the conditions of foreign workers to take “all necessary measures to secure respect for the fundamental rights of all foreign migrant workers employed in this country”.
The text of the resolution will be submitted to the Council of Europe’s plenary session in April which brings together more than 300 Parliamentarians from 47 member states.
A resolution from the Council of Europe, which is an advisory international organisation, is not binding but would increase political pressure on FIFA.
Since the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in 2010, both the country and FIFA have been dogged by controversy.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, however, insisted last month “it would really need an earthquake,” to go back on the decision.