Qatar denies 2022 World Cup bribery allegations

Fifa president Joseph S. Blatter vowed to address the latest allegations. (AP)

Qatar says the “serious and baseless allegations” that two Fifa officials were paid to vote for its successful 2022 World Cup bid are based on evidence that is “wholly unreliable.”

Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast were allegedly paid $1.5 million to vote for Qatar, according to evidence submitted on Tuesday to a British Parliamentary inquiry by a British newspaper.

The Qatar football federation later issued a statement saying the allegations “will remain unproven because they are false.”

The statement adds “we have nothing to hide and are prepared to support and cooperate with any further investigations.”

Qatar beat bids from the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea in December’s vote.

In an explosive session of a British parliamentary committee, six members of Fifa’s graft-tainted executive were accused of involvement in bribery before last year’s votes to decide the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts.

British lawmaker Damian Collins said the hearing had received evidence Fifa vice-president Issa Hayatou from Cameroon and Jacques Anouma from the Ivory Coast received bribes of $1.5 million to vote for Qatar’s 2022 bid.

In separate testimony, Lord David Triesman, the chairman of England’s 2018 bid until his resignation in May last year, accused four Fifa officials of “improper and unethical” behaviour ahead of last December’s vote in Zurich.

“These were some of the things that were put to me personally, sometimes in the presence of others, which in my view did not represent proper and ethical behaviour on the part of members of the executive committee,” Triesman said.

Fifa President Sepp Blatter, who is fighting for re-election as head of world football’s governing body, immediately vowed to address the latest allegations.

“If this is true, I will fight this,” Sky Sports reported Blatter as saying. “I am fighting for Fifa to clean Fifa.
“I cannot answer for individual members of our committee. I cannot say if they are all angels or if they are all devils.”

Triesman revealed that Jack Warner, the influential head of the North and Central American federation CONCACAF, had demanded to be paid directly around £2.5 million ($4m) for construction of schools in Trinidad.

Triesman, who had met Warner along with England 2018 deputy chairman Sir Dave Richards, said the request was rejected immediately.

“I said immediately the proposition was out of the question. Sir Dave said ‘You must be joking Jack. You’re probably talking about £2.5 million.’

“Jack nodded at that. He said that the money could be channelled through him and he would guarantee the funds would be appropriately spent.”

In a second incident involving Warner, Triesman revealed how the Trinidadian had sought a £500,000 “donation” to secure the rights to broadcast the 2010 World Cup in Haiti to lift the spirits of the earthquake-shattered nation.

Warner later dismissed Triesman’s allegations as a “piece of nonsense” in a statement to Sky Sports.

“I’ve never asked Triesman nor any other person, Englishman or otherwise, for any money for my vote at any time,” Warner stated.

In another episode, Triesman revealed that Paraguayan Nicolas Leoz, the head of the South American federation CONMEMBOL, had requested a knighthood during a meeting in Asuncion in November 2009.

“I said it was completely impossible, we didn’t operate like that. He shrugged his shoulders and walked away,” Triesman said.

The same month, Triesman and English bid members met Brazilian official Ricardo Teixeira on the sidelines of a England-Brazil friendly in Doha.

After remarking to Teixeira that he was happy to have heard positive sentiment about England’s bid from former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Teixeira had replied: “Lula is nothing - you come and tell me what you have for me.”

The fourth official named by Triesman was Thailand’s Worawi Makudi, who had demanded to be awarded broadcasting rights of a possible friendly match between England and Thailand in Bangkok that had been pencilled in for 2011.

England were knocked out in the second round of the World Cup ballot, mustering just two of 22 votes. Russia later went on to win with 13 votes.

Triesman said he had feared damaging England’s bid if he had gone public with the incidents he detailed.

“The point was not pressed,” he said. “And I think, in retrospect, we would have burned off our chances. In retrospect that was not the right view to take and I accept that.”


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