Qatar 2022: Fifa sponsor demands 'appropriate investigation'


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+Frank B.

Qatar 2022: Fifa sponsor demands 'appropriate investigation'
 
Fifa is under growing pressure over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

 
One of its main sponsors, Sony, has called on the governing body to carry out an "appropriate investigation" into claims of wrongdoing during the bidding process.

 

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times has published new allegations based on a leak of millions of secret documents.

 

Qatar were awarded the right to stage the 2022 World Cup in December 2010.

 

The decision has come under increasing scrutiny with Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce saying he would support a re-vote to find a new host if corruption allegations can be proven.

 

Fifa president Sepp Blatter called for time to investigate the issues when he posted a message on his Twitter account which said: "Never ignoring media reports on ethics allegations in football. But let the Ethics Committee work!"

 

Last week the newspaper alleged that Qatar's former Fifa vice-president Mohamed bin Hammam paid ?3m to football officials around the world to help win support for Qatar in the run up to the World Cup vote in December 2010.

 

Now Bin Hammam is facing claims that he used his top level contacts in the Qatari royal family and government to arrange deals and favours to secure the tournament for his country.

 

According to the emails, some of which have been seen by the BBC, Bin Hammam:

 

*Visited Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin to discuss "bilateral relations" between Russia and Qatar a month before the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

 

*Brokered government level talks for Thailand's Fifa executive Worawi Makudi to push a deal on importing gas from Qatar to Thailand. Makudi told the paper he did not receive a concession for his part in any gas deal.

 

*Invited Germany's former Fifa executive Franz Beckenbauer to Doha just five months after the vote with bosses from an oil and gas shipping firm which was employing him as a consultant. The firm involved says it was exploring possible Qatari investments in the shipping and maritime sector but that no deal ever came from the talks. When approached by the Sunday Times, former German international Beckenbauer declined to comment.

 

*Fixed meetings between nine Fifa executive committee members, including Blatter, with members of the Qatari royal family.

 

*Arranged a meeting between the Qatar bid team and Uefa boss Michel Platini at European football's headquarters in Nyon, near Geneva.

 

Platini, who has openly admitted voting for Qatar, says Bin Hammam did not attend the meeting and insists he has nothing to hide.

 

Qatar's World Cup organising committee reiterated it was confident the bid had been won fairly.

 

In a statement the Supreme Committee said: "There is an on-going investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bid process, with which we have fully cooperated. Consistent with FIFA's rules we have been asked to refrain from commenting on the investigation and we will comply with that request.

 

"Qatar has won the bid on its merits and we are confident that at the end of the appropriate process, the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar will stand."

 

Bin Hammam has declined to comment.

 

However, what the emails appear to demonstrate is that Bin Hammam - banned from football for life in 2012 for his part in another corruption scandal - was indeed working to secure support for the Qatar bid.

 

But while that might be uncomfortable for Qatar and Fifa, it is not clear that he or the bid broke any of the governing body's bidding rules. Fifa executive committee members were not subject to the same restrictions placed on bid officials and all the bidding nations used their heads of state and senior government figures to try and win influence and votes.

 

England's failed bid for the 2018 tournament used Prince William, the president of the FA, and Prime Minister David Cameron throughout the latter stages of their campaign.

 

It is also part and parcel of big sporting bids for countries to use them to try and broker big trade deals.

 

Fifa's chief investigator, the New York lawyer Michael Garcia, must now consider whether to include the latest revelations in his long-running inquiry into the World Cup bids. But he stated last week that he will wind up his investigation early next week before writing and filing his report with Fifa's new adjudicatory chamber in the middle of July.

 

Fifa has confirmed to BBC Sport that Garcia will provide an update in person to delegates from 209 national associations at their annual congress in Brazil next week. It is unclear, at this stage, whether he will speak on the first or second day of the meeting.

 

It is understood that while Bin Hammam's role raises fresh questions about Qatar's campaign, Garcia is unlikely to look too deeply into his actions as he has already been banned by Fifa.

 

Boyce, the UK's Fifa executive committee member, told the BBC that while the last week has been tough, world football's governing body is changing.

 

"Since I joined Fifa's executive committee in 2011 half of the committee has gone," he said.

 

"Mr Bin Hammam, who there's been a lot of talk about recently, has been banned for life by Fifa and many of these other people mentioned are no longer at Fifa as well.

 

"There are a lot of very good people at Fifa and people who are only interested in furthering the game of football. And obviously Fifa don't get enough credit for what they do around the world."

 

Source: BBC Sport

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