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Monday 19 February 2018

Calls for Qatar to be stripped of World Cup in new pay-off row

An artists impression of the Al-Khor stadium
An artists impression of the Al-Khor stadium
FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce would be in favour of re-running the vote for the 2022 World Cup if allegations that widespread corruption was involved in the Qatar bid were proven. PA
The Khalifa International football stadium in Qatar

Holly Watt and Claire Newell London

New calls for Qatar to be stripped of the World Cup if it is proven that the Gulf state's top football official paid millions of dollars to African counterparts in the run-up to the vote came last night.

Greg Dyke, chairman of England's Football Association, insisted that if the process of awarding the World Cup in 2022 was "corrupt", it had to be "looked at again".

He spoke out after the discovery of emails showing that hundreds of thousands of dollars were channelled to dozens of African football officials before and after the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

His call was echoed by one of Fifa's vice-presidents.

Jim Boyce, who sits as Northern Ireland's member on the Fifa executive committee – the body responsible for awarding the World Cup – said he would be in favour of re-running the vote if the allegations, published in 'The Sunday Times', were proven by an independent Fifa report.


Mohammed Bin Hammam, the former president of the Asian Football Confederation, is accused of masterminding the Qatari bid, and showering gifts and money on football officials around the world.

He has been accused of channelling tens of thousands of pounds to the presidents of small football associations in Africa over several years.

Many of the payments were made shortly before the Fifa vote in 2010, leading some to claim that executive committee members could have felt pressured into voting for Qatar.

Along with the payments of thousands of dollars, football officials received all-expenses-paid trips to top hotels and gifts including cars.

Senior figures in football and politics lined up to condemn Fifa's management of the tournament, which opens in Brazil next week.

Mr Boyce told Radio 5 Live that any evidence of bribery should be given to Michael Garcia, an American lawyer who has been appointed by Fifa to investigate the World Cup bidding process.

"If Garcia's report comes up and his recommendations are that wrongdoing happened for that vote for the 2022 World Cup, I certainly as a member of the executive [committee] would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a re-vote," said Mr Boyce.

"If Garcia comes up with concrete evidence and concrete evidence is given to the executive committee and to Fifa then it has to be looked at very seriously at that time, there's no doubt about that.'

The decision to award Qatar the World Cup has been mired in controversy, with serious concerns about its ability to host the tournament.

The 'Daily Telegraph' has previously disclosed that a senior Fifa official and his family were paid almost $2m (€1.4m) from a Qatari firm controlled by Mr Bin Hamman shortly after the decision to award the tournament to the country.

Lord MacDonald of River Glaven, the UK's former director of public prosecutions, called Fifa a "cesspit" following yesterday's disclosures and suggested that a "very serious crime" might have been committed.

He added: "The fact that the allegation is that they used dollars means that the Justice Department in Washington has jurisdiction over this . . . the United States of course are in the World Cup finals.

"If the Justice Department started to take an interest in this, I think Fifa would feel the heat very, very quickly."


Gary Lineker, the former England footballer, also said that Fifa should re-run the contest for the 2022 tournament.

The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee said it had always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid to host the World Cup.

It said in a statement: "In regard to the latest allegations from 'The Sunday Times', we say again that Mohammed bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar's 2022 Bid Committee.

"As was the case with every other member of Fifa's executive committee, our bid team had to convince Mr Bin Hammam of the merits of our bid."

It said it was co-operating fully with the ongoing investigation of Mr Garcia and remained totally confident that any objective inquiry would conclude it won the bid to host the World Cup fairly.

It added: "Following today's newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing.

"We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter.

"The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first Fifa World Cup." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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