Qatar 2022: Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce 'would support' re-vote if corruption proven

Fifa vice-president, Jim Boyce, has said he would back a re-vote if Fifa investigations prove Qatar corruption

Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (left) and Fifa President Sepp Blatter pose with the World Cup after the Qatar announcement in 2010
Emir of the State of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani (left) and Fifa President Sepp Blatter pose with the World Cup after the Qatar announcement in 2010

Fifa vice-president, Jim Boyce, has said he would back a re-vote to find a new host of the 2022 World Cup if allegations of corruption can be proven.

Boyce, who took up the role of vice-president after replacing the controversial Jack Warner in 2011, said that the current investigations into corruption surrounding Qatar's 2022 bid have received Fifa's "100 per cent" backing and if it was decided a re-vote was needed he would support it.

Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, Boyce said: "I would have no problem if the recommendation was for a re-vote."

The comments come after an investigation by the Sunday Times is said to have revealed evidence of corruption surrounding Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.

The investigation alleges that it found evidence that proves former Qatar Football Association president Mohamed Bin Hammam had spent nearly £3 million to buy votes to ensure the country's bid was successful.

In light of the allegations, Fifa have decided to send Michael Garcia, the man charged with investigating corruption within the organisation, to Oman to attempt to find out whether The Sunday Times' claims are true.

Commenting on the investigation Boyce said: "If Garcia reports that wrongdoing happened for the 2022 vote then it has to be looked at very seriously,"

Adding: "The Fifa executive committee are 100% behind Garcia," he continued. "He will be allowed to go and speak to anyone from around the world to complete his mission. All evidence should go to him and we will then await a full report on his findings."

He is expected to fly to Oman this week and his trip will involve a number of interviews with members of the Qatar bid committee.

However, the Sunday Times claim he is not expected to grill Bin Hammam as he is still seen by Fifa as unconnected to Qatar's bid.

The revelations prompted demands for further investigations and a possible re-run of the vote, including from the head of the Dutch FA, politicians and footballers.

“The thing wasn’t done fairly, it wasn’t done openly and it would have to be cancelled and re-run entirely,” the shadow International Development Secretary, Jim Murphy, told the BBC.

Greg Dyke, chairman of the English Football Association, told Channel 4 News: “Some of this evidence on the face of it is quite compelling. If the evidence is there, that the process is corrupt, then obviously the process has to be looked at again.”

The Allegations

In the investigation by The Sunday Times, the newspaper claims to have obtained millions of secret documents from a Fifa insider that prove the decision to grant Qatar the 2022 World Cup had been influenced by payments made by disgraced former Fifa vice-president Mohammed Bin Hammam.

According to the Sunday Times report, the secret documents show a campaign of corruption, which saw Hammam pay out millions of pounds in order to secure support for the Qatari bid from Football Associations across the world.

Fifa executive committee members, government ministers and football associations have denied any wrongdoing and Michael Garcia, a lawyer employed by Fifa to investigate corruption in the organisation, is set to hold talks with the Qatar bid committee in Oman this week.

Bin Hammam, who was previously the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president, was removed from Fifa after it was found he had used money to influence votes during his campaign to become Fifa President in 2011.

It is alleged that Bin Hammam targeted Football Associations in Africa and used a number of slush funds to pay cash to high ranking football officials to help produce a "groundswell" of support for the controversial Qatari bid.

The newspaper claims that dozens of payments of up to £200,000 were paid into the accounts of 30 different African football associations in an apparent attempt to persuade them to support Qatar’s bid.

When approached by the Sunday Times Mr Bin Hammam's son Hamad Al Abdulla declined to comment on his behalf.

The paper claims that another benefactor of Bin Hammam’s campaigning is the controversial former Chief of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association Jack Warner. Warner denies these claims saying that they are” baseless allegations based on innuendoes” and said the money he received from Bin Hammam was to help with losses he suffered during an earthquake in China.

According to The Sunday Times, they have evidence that Warner had more than $1.6m funnelled into his accounts by Bin Hammam, including $450,000 for his vote.

The Qatar bidding committee has always strenuously denied that Bin Hammam actively lobbied on their behalf in the lead up to the vote in December 2010.

The new evidence claims to prove that there had been communications between Bin Hammam and the Qatar bid committee, and that Hammam hosted a number of lavish functions with the aim of securing support for the Qatari bid.

It is also said that at these functions Bin Hammam handed out a cash gifts to a number of influential football officials. In light of the allegations, there have been calls for the bid to host the 2022 World Cup to be rerun.

John Whittingdale chairman of the Commons culture committee, said: “There is now an overwhelming case that the decision as to where the World Cup should be held in 2022 should be run again.”

The revelations will also put increasing pressure on Fifa President Sepp Blatter.

Just last week an embattled Blatter said it was a "mistake" to choose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

In an interview with Swiss broadcaster RTS, Mr Blatter said: "Yes, it was a mistake of course, but one makes lots of mistakes in life."

"The technical report into Qatar said clearly it was too hot but the executive committee – with a large majority – decided all the same to play it in Qatar."

The decision to award Qatar the right to host the World Cup, which was announced in December 2010, was already considered hugely controversial.

The country has little football history and there have been persistent complaints over the decision to host the competition in a country which experiences stifling heat.

Bribery allegations What happens next?

The fate of the Qatari-hosted World Cup appears to rest in the hands of Michael Garcia, a former US attorney who has conducted a two-year inquiry into alleged corruption within Fifa which is due to be published within months.

While the Sunday Times allegations are detailed, they do not provide a “smoking gun” – although the newspaper is promising more revelations in coming weeks.

Mr Garcia has previously interviewed Mr Bin Hammam during an investigation into alleged wrong-doing over the Fifa presidential elections which saw Sepp Blatter again emerge triumphant, and the Qatari disgraced after allegations of bribery. However, he had not contacted him over the World Cup voting scandal.

The 24-strong Fifa executive committee has already been stripped of the right to choose the host nation of the World Cup over the scandal, with future decisions to be taken by representatives of all Fifa members.

The vote for 2022 saw Qatar pitted against Japan, Australia, the US, and South Korea. The country with the lowest number of votes – Australia in the first round – was eliminated and a revote taken until there was a majority winner. “The best candidate for 2022, given 2018 is in Europe was, and still is, Australia,” said former England striker Gary Lineker yesterday.

The US – which lost in the final round of voting – said that it would not take part in further bidding until Fifa got its house in order. If Qatar were to be stripped of the 2022 tournament, it is not clear if it would be allowed to compete in a re-run – or what would happen to the stadiums that are already under construction.

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