New Fifa bribe allegations over Qatar World Cup bid

Click to follow
The Independent Football

FIFA's already-tarnished reputation today received another battering after fresh allegations - including of World Cup bid bribes - were made about six members of the organisation's executive committee.

Two members, FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou from Cameroon and Jacques Anouma from the Ivory Coast were paid 1.5 million US dollars by Qatar, according to claims highlighted by MPs at the culture, media and sport committee in the House of Commons.

In an astonishing morning of whistle-blowing at the inquiry, claims of "improper and unethical" behaviour by four other executive committee (ExCo) members were made by former FA and England 2018 bid chairman Lord Triesman.

Two other FIFA members, Amos Adamu from Nigeria and Reynald Temarii from Tahiti, were banned by the body's ethics committee last year.

The latest developments mean no fewer than eight FIFA ExCo members - one third of the total of 24 - have either been alleged to have been or already found guilty of impropriety in relation to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

Tory MP Damian Collins said that evidence submitted by the Sunday Times, which the committee will publish, claimed that Hayatou and Anouma were paid 1.5 million US dollars by Qatar.

Collins said: "The Sunday Times' submission, and this is to be published by us later, claims that 1.5million dollars was paid to FIFA executive committee members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma who went on to vote for Qatar."

Collins said the submission claimed Qatar specifically employed a fixer to arrange deals with African members for their votes.

Adamu and Temarii and four other FIFA officials were banned by FIFA's ethics committee last year after a Sunday Times investigation into World Cup bidding.

Later, Triesman later gave evidence of "improper and unethical" behaviour by four other executive committee members.

He said FIFA vice-president Jack Warner asked for money - suggested to be £2.5million - to build an education centre in Trinidad with the cash to be channelled through him, and later £500,000 to buy Haiti World Cup TV rights for the earthquake-hit nation, also to go through Warner.

Paraguay's FIFA member Nicolas Leoz asked for a knighthood while Brazil's FIFA member Ricardo Terra Teixeira asked Triesman to "come and tell me what you have got for me".

Thailand's FIFA member Worawi Makudi wanted to be given the TV rights to a friendly between England and the Thai national team, said Triesman.

He added: "These were some of the things that were put to me personally, sometimes in the presence of others, which in my view did not represent proper and ethical behaviour on the part of members of the executive committee."

John Whittingdale, chairman of the committee, said he would now be writing to FIFA president Sepp Blatter to launch an investigation into the evidence "as a matter of urgency".

Triesman added that he would undertake to provide his evidence to any FIFA inquiry.

In relation to the claims about payments made by Qatar 2022, Mike Lee, the London-based public relations consultant who worked on Qatar's bid, said he was unaware of any payments being made.

Lee, formerly communications director of the Premier League, UEFA and London's 2012 Olympic bid, told MPs: "I was working at the highest level of that bid and talking at length with the chairman and ceo and saw no evidence of any of these allegations.

"My experience is I would have had a sense if such things were going on and I had no sense of that."

FIFA promised to address the latest allegations and Blatter, rocked by arguably the biggest scandal of all less than three weeks before running for president for the fourth time, told reporters in Zurich his own conscience was clear.

"I can't answer for members of my committee," he said.

"I can't say if they are all angels or devils but I am not in the category that has to go to any tribunal or ethics committee. My conscience is clear."

FA chief operations officer Alex Horne, in Zurich for the FIFA 2014 Task Force hearing, said the FA would be asking the select committee for all the evidence they had "and get it sent to the FIFA ethics committee".

Horne said it was "too early to say" whether the FA would be calling for the ballot in December to be retaken.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Fifa had to undertake the sort of "serious action" agreed by Olympic chiefs after a bribery scandal over the awarding of the 2002 winter Games.

"This is the world's most popular game. It is incredibly important not to millions of people but to billions of people and it is up to Fifa to make sure that everyone has confidence in the processes that lead up to the awarding of a World Cup," he told reporters at a Westminster lunch.

"The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had to face up to big challenges after the award of the Olympics to Salt Lake City and they took serious action and restored confidence in their processes. Fifa needs to do the same."

Mr Hunt would not comment on the latest allegations and pointed out that he was not in office at the time of the initial bid processes.

But he said that when he went to Zurich for conclusion of the selection, all the discussion was about "who was doing deals with who" rather than the merits of the individual bid".

The latest allegations may help neither Blatter nor his rival for FIFA president Mohamed Bin Hammam in the election on June 1.

Both candidates have spoken about cleaning up the image of FIFA but while Blatter must take some responsibility for the World Cup bid process, Bin Hammam was a driving force behind the Qatar bid.

Of all the nine countries bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Qatar is the only one subject to direct allegations that bribes were paid to secure FIFA members' votes, although there is no suggestion Bin Hammam was involved in any wrongdoing.

Asked whether the Prime Minister would like an inquiry into Lord Triesman's claims, David Cameron's official spokesman told a media briefing at Westminster: "There is an investigation into these allegations. Sepp Blatter has said that these claims are being investigated and they will take action if there is evidence of wrong-doing.

"That is something we welcome."

The spokesman added: "The important thing is that the public and people who watch football have confidence in the system.

"Therefore when there are allegations it is right that these allegations are investigated.

"Ultimately, (FIFA) are the world governing body of football and it is for them, if need be, to do the things that they need to do to put their house in order. Clearly they need to reassure the sporting public and fans that there is no suggestion of corruption or any problems with competition for these kinds of major sporting events."

Asked whether the Prime Minister would like an inquiry into Lord Triesman's claims, David Cameron's official spokesman told a media briefing at Westminster: "There is an investigation into these allegations. Sepp Blatter has said that these claims are being investigated and they will take action if there is evidence of wrongdoing.

"That is something we welcome."

The spokesman added: "The important thing is that the public and people who watch football have confidence in the system.

"Therefore when there are allegations it is right that these allegations are investigated.

"Ultimately, (FIFA) are the world governing body of football and it is for them, if need be, to do the things that they need to do to put their house in order. Clearly they need to reassure the sporting public and fans that there is no suggestion of corruption or any problems with competition for these kinds of major sporting events."

The letter from Sunday Times Insight team members Jonathan Calvert and Claire Newell was published on the UK Parliament website this evening and contained more details on the allegations against Hayatou and Anouma.

The newspaper also alleges that Adamu had been offered money by Qatar before he was barred from voting.

The letter states: "Last December we spoke to a whistleblower who had worked with the Qatar bid.

"The whistleblower claimed Qatar had paid US dollars 1.5million to two FIFA Exco members - Hayatou and Jaques (sic) Anouma of the Ivory Coast - to secure their votes.

"It was further alleged that a similar deal had been struck with Amos Adamu, although he was prevented from voting because he was suspended following our original article.

"The whistleblower said that the cash was to go to the three members' football federations but there would be no questions asked about how the money was used: "It was said in such a way that 'we are giving it to you'. It was going to their federation. Basically, if they took it into their pocket, we don't give a jack," the whistleblower told us.

"The whistleblower's allegations raise questions about the validity of Qatar's winning bid."

The Sunday Times also criticised FIFA for not investigating allegations of bribes paid by the Morocco bid team during the race to secure the 2010 World Cup, which was eventually won by South Africa.

The letter read: "The original evidence that we sent to FIFA also contained other serious allegations which appear to have been ignored.

"Ahongalu Fusimalohi, the former FIFA Exco member from the Oceania, was recorded talking about how he had been offered bribes by the Morocco bid committee during the 2004 contest for the 2010 World Cup.

"He said he turned them down, although he was not against paying bribes as he advised our undercover reporter to offer money to Oceania's current Fifa Exco member...

"(Former FIFA Exco member Ismail) Bhamjee also claimed that Jack Warner, the FIFA Exco member for Trinidad and Tobago, had been paid USD 1million by Morocco for his vote.

"There are only 24 Exco members and they are effectively the ruling body of FIFA. It therefore seems extraordinary that such serious allegations by and about such senior officials were effectively swept under the carpet."

Comments