Following allegations in the The Sunday Times, which claimed that it received "hundreds of millions" of documents which allegedly reveal disgraced former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments to football officials in return for votes for Qatar, the 2022 World Cup bid team have firmly denied any wrongdoing.
WHAT THE SUNDAY TIMES SAID
The Sunday Times alleged Bin Hammam, also the former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president who was banned for life from football administration by the FIFA ethics committee, had made payments into accounts controlled by the presidents of 30 African football associations and accounts controlled by the Trinidadian Jack Warner, a former vice-president of FIFA.
It is alleged that a total of $1.6 million (£1m) was paid to the disgraced Warner, with $450,000 (£270,000) before the December 2010 vote – which was when FIFA’s board selected Qatar despite concerns being aired regarding player safety in the vast heat.
Bin Hammam also allegedly gave $415,000 (£250,000) to Reynald Temarii, a FIFA vice president, who was barred from voting after a Sunday Times cash-for-votes report in October 2010, to help pay legal fees.
WHAT THE QATAR 2022 BID TEAM SAID
In a statement issued on Sunday, the bid committee said Bin Hammam had no association with them while denying any suggestion of wrong-doing. The committee said it was co-operating with the ongoing investigation led by FIFA's chief investigator Michael Garcia.
"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," the statement said.
"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 into 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."
Qatar 2022 (Nov 2010): Bin Hammam "definitely our biggest asset in the bid.” Qatar 2022 (now): BH "played no official or unofficial role"
The Sunday Times claims are another blow to the beleaguered Qatar World Cup, but they contain no smoking gun to force FIFA to move the tournament. Qatar has attempted to distance itself from Bin Hammam, while FIFA banned him for life in 2012. The damage to Sepp Blatter is negligible, and unless a paper trail can be unearthed proving Bin Hammam's centrality to the bid, there is every chance Qatar can ride out the crisis.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
There have been calls for the 2022 vote to be re-run, though, because this is the first case of such allegations in the World Cup voting process, it is so far unclear if this could come to fruition. What is currently happening, however, is Michael Garcia – FIFA’s independent ethics prosecutor’s - inquest into Qatar’s 2022 bid. The Sunday Times say they have handed their evidence to the former United States attorney, who is due to meet with Qatari officials in Oman on Monday. The paper has also revealed that there will be more revelations during the next few weeks.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Matt Hughes, The Times: Over nine pages of a broadsheet newspaper The Sunday Times have produced an outstanding investigation detailing the extent of the corruption orchestrated by Mohamed Bin Hammam to secure the 2022 World Cup. But it will take more than the “hundreds of millions” of emails the paper has showcased so exhaustively to take the tournament away from Qatar.
There is very little appetite within Fifa to reopen the bidding for 2022, not least because they are in the middle of organising the painstaking process of moving the event to winter, and they will not do so unless they have no choice. For that prospect to become a reality is likely to require the decisive intervention of an outside agency, such as the FBI.
Qatar bid committee say Bin Hammam had nothing to do with 2022 win. Our #FifaFiles tell the truth. And there's so much more to come.
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