Qatar secretly offered $400m to Fifa ahead of the football governing body’s controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to the Gulf state, according to leaked documents.
An exclusive report in The Sunday Times alleges that executives from the Qatari state-run broadcaster Al Jazeera signed a television contract making the offer three weeks before the announcement.
It represented “a huge conflict of interest for Fifa and a breach of its own rules” as Al Jazeera was owned by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who was the driving force behind the bid, the paper says.
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The Times also alleges that another offer of $480m was made by Qatar three years later, shortly before Fifa cut short its investigation into corruption in the bidding process. The contract now forms part of a bribery inquiry by Swiss police, according to the newspaper.
The allegations “are likely to cause further suspicion as to whether Qatar effectively bought the right to host the World Cup,” which will be held in the capital of Doha in three years’ time, says the Daily Telegraph.
Whispers of corruption have surrounded the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar ever since it was made in December 2010.
In 2014, The Times alleged that Qatari football chief Mohamed bin Hammam, who was expelled from Fifa’s executive committee in 2011 for financial corruption, paid £3m in bribes to senior football officials to ensure that the Gulf state won the vote in December 2010.
Damian Collins, the chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, told The Times that Fifa must freeze the Al Jazeera payments and launch an investigation into the contract that “appears to be in clear breach of the rules”.
Fifa has not commented on the latest allegations.
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