Accuses some of football’s top figures of collusion.
France Football magazine has raised questions about FIFA’s awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, alleging it was tainted by corruption and collusion involving top figures in the game.
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The weekly publication said that the awarding of football’s most prestigious tournament had “a whiff of scandal that begs the only question worth asking: should the vote be declared null and void?”.
To back up its claims, the magazine, which dubbed the affair “Qatargate”, quoted what it said was an internal email in which FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke allegedly said that the tiny Gulf state had “bought the 2022 World Cup”.
Valcke subsquently claimed a misunderstanding and insisted that the tone of the email was “light-hearted”.
France Football also quoted former FIFA media chief Guido Tognoni, who was kicked out of the organisation in 2003, as saying he believed there were “strong suspicions” that members were compromised over the £28.87 million Qatari bid.
Key figures in making Qatar’s case included the now-banned former Asian football chief Mohammed Bin Hammam, FIFA vice-president Julio Grondona of Argentina and Ricardo Teixeira, who quit Brazil’s football federation and FIFA over graft claims.
The magazine also said there was a “secret meeting” at the French presidential palace in Paris on November 23, 2010 — some 10 days before the crucial vote to decide the 2022 competition venue.
Attending were then-president Nicolas Sarkozy, Qatari prince Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani, UEFA president Michel Platini and Sebastien Bazin, representing Paris Saint-Germain owners Colony Capital, who at the time were in financial difficulty.
“During this meeting, the question repeatedly came up of a buy-out of Paris Saint-Germain by the Qataris, an increase in their shareholding of the Lagardere group, the creation of a sports television channel to challenge Canal+ — which Sarkozy wanted to weaken — all in exchange for a promise: that Platini would not give his vote to the United States, as he intended to, but to Qatar.”
PSG were eventually bought by Qatar Sports Investment in June 2011. BeIn Sport, a subsidiary of Doha-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, launched last year and took the television rights to show live French football from Canal+.
According to France Football, “the Americans would be odds-on favourites to be handed the 2022 World Cup in the event that Qatar’s designation was withdrawn or sidelined”.
Competition organisers were quoted as saying: “We won the World Cup 2022 bid by respecting from beginning to end the highest ethical and moral standards, such as they were defined in the rules and regulations.”
A FIFA spokesman pointed out that its ethical commission, headed by former US prosecutor Michael Garcia, said last Thursday that he was to conduct a “wide-ranging inquiry” into the awarding of the 2018 edition to Russia and 2022 to Qatar.
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