Sport Soccer

Friday 18 October 2019

Qatar reject claims they used former CIA operatives to sabotage rival bidders for the 2022 World Cup

Khalifa International Stadium on of the venues which will host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Photo: Getty Images
Khalifa International Stadium on of the venues which will host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Photo: Getty Images

The Qatar 2022 World Cup bid team broke FIFA rules by running a secret campaign to sabotage their rivals for the tournament, The Sunday Times has claimed.

The newspaper says it has been passed documents by a whistleblower who worked with the Qatar bid.

It says the bid team used a PR agency and former CIA operatives to disseminate fake propaganda about its main competitors, the United States and Australia.

This allegedly involved recruiting prominent figures to criticise the bids in their own countries, thus giving the impression they lacked support at home.

FIFA rules say that bidders must "refrain from making any written or oral statements of any kind, whether adverse or otherwise, about the bids or candidatures of any other member association which has expressed an interest in hosting and staging the competitions".

Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it "rejected" all the claims made by the paper.

According to The Sunday Times, the alleged smear campaign included paying a professor 9,000 dollars (£6,900) to write a damning report on the economic cost of a US World Cup, recruiting journalists and bloggers to promote negative stories in the US, Australian and international media, and organising grassroots protests at rugby matches in Australia.

The leaked documents also revealed that a group of American PE teachers had been recruited to ask congressmen to oppose a US World Cup on the grounds the money would be better spent on high school sports, the paper claimed.

Lord Triesman, former chairman of the Football Association and England bid chairman, urged FIFA to "look at the evidence thoroughly", and said Qatar should not be allowed to "hold on to the World Cup" if they were shown to have broken FIFA rules.

He told the paper: "I think it would not be wrong for FIFA to reconsider England in those circumstances ... We have the capabilities."

The Qatar bid team has previously been accused of corruption, but was cleared following a two-year inquiry by the FIFA ethics committee.

In a statement, Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said: "The Supreme Committee rejects each and every allegation put forward by the Sunday Times.

"We have been thoroughly investigated and have been forthcoming with all information related to our bid, including the official investigation led by US attorney Michael Garcia.

"We have strictly adhered to all FIFA's rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process."

FIFA said an investigation into the circumstances of the bid had already been carried out and no wrongdoing was found.

A FIFA spokesperson said: "Concerning the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process, a thorough investigation was conducted by Michael Garcia and his conclusions are available in the report, which has been published on FIFA.com."

"Generally speaking, complaints regarding potential breaches of the FIFA Code of Ethics may be filed via FIFA's confidential reporting mechanism."

Online Editors

The Left Wing: Welcome to Irish rugby's biggest week - is an upset on the cards?

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport