Bribe glare on bid for 2022 Fifa World Cup
The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has become the focus of fresh Fifa corruption allegations after the release of a new US Department of Justice indictment which says bribes were paid to football officials to secure their votes for hosting rights.
Suspicion and rumours have long surrounded both the 2010 vote by Fifa’s executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. But on Monday, for the first time, prosecutors set direct, formal allegations down in print.
According to the prosecutors, representatives working for Russia and Qatar bribed Fifa executive committee officials to swing votes in the crucial decision of world football’s governing body.
Qatar, on Tuesday, called allegations it bribed Fifa officials for the right to host the 2022 World Cup “baseless” and said they “will be fiercely contested”.
Qatar said it “strongly denies the allegations contained within the court papers”.
“Despite years of false claims, evidence has never been produced to demonstrate that Qatar won the rights to host the Fifa World Cup 2022 unethically or by means that contravened Fifa’s strict bidding rules.”
Fifa said in a statement it supported all investigations into “alleged acts of criminal wrongdoing” and noted it had been accorded victim status in the US criminal proceedings.
“The Fifa Ethics Committee has already imposed sanctions, including life bans, on football officials mentioned in this process,” said a Fifa spokesman. “So far as Fifa is concerned, should any acts of criminal wrongdoing by football officials be established, the individuals in question should be subject to penal sanctions.
“As the respective criminal cases are ongoing we are not in a position to comment further for the time being.”
Although Fifa has reacted to previous media allegations about the Qatar bid process by insisting the tournament will be unaffected, the US allegations will lead to further questions over the hosting of the tournament, scheduled for November and December of 2022.
The indictment states that the three South American members of Fifa’s 2010 executive — Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira, the late Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and an unnamed co-conspirator — took bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 tournament.
Teixeira, the former son-in-law of long-time Fifa boss Joao Havelange and ex-head of the Brazilian soccer federation (CBF), was not immediately reachable for comment.
The DOJ also alleges that then Fifa vice-president Jack Warner was paid $5 million through various shell companies to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.