By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News, Dubai
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
Tuesday, 18 March 2014
A Qatari firm paid almost $2 million to a senior FIFA official and his family just after the Gulf state won its controversial bid to host the 2022 World Cup, a UK newspaper has claimed.
Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and his sons were paid $1.95m by a company controlled by former Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam, an investigation by The Telegraph found. A further $400,000 was allegedly paid to one of his employees.
The FBI is now investigating Warner’s alleged links to the Qatari bid, The Telegraph reported.
The Telegraph reported that Kemco, which is said to be owned by Hammam, “appeared to pay $1.2 million to Mr Warner in 2011”. Warner’s two sons and an employee were allegedly paid an additional $1 million.
Qatar’s Hammam had once been a candidate for the FIFA presidency, but in 2011 withdrew from the race after being implicated in trying to bribe voters from the Caribbean.
A note from one of Mr Warner’s companies, Jamad, to Kemco allegedly requested $1.2 million for work carried out between 2005 and 2010, The Telegraph reported.
“The disclosures will add to concerns that some FIFA executive committee members were not impartial when they cast their votes in December 2010,” the newspaper said.
In a video, Warner was seen being questioned by The Telegraph, but declined to comment.
The documents unearthed by The Telegraph raise fresh questions over Warner and Hammam, who have both faced previous allegations against them.
In 2011, Warner resigned from all posts connected to soccer after being accused of facilitating bribes to members of the Caribbean football union on behalf of Hammam.
Warner served as vice-president of FIFA for 14 years, and was one of 22 people who decided to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup. Yet the vote was plagued with allegations of corruption among officials.
Both officials have been in hot water previously, notes James Dorsey, author of a blog and related book entitled The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.
“One has been banned for life from involvement in football for questionable practices [Hammam], the other resigned from FIFA voluntarily to avoid investigation [Warner],” he said.
Dorsey said it was too soon to jump to conclusions about the more recent allegations against the two men.
“It’s up to investigators to find out whether these payments have anything to do with the Qatari bid,” Dorsey said.
“Whether or not these payments are related to the Qatari bid is the important question. It’s not clear what Bin Hammam’s role was, if any, in the bid,” he added.
Dorsey also speculated that Hammam’s interests and those of the Qatari officials “diverged as the bid moved forward, as they were not happy with the way he challenged FIFA President Sepp Blatter in running for the top post in the football organization.
Qatar has faced criticism from many sides over its hosting of the 2022 World Cup. Working conditions for laborers and the country’s harsh climate have been cited by critics.
A spokesman for the Qatar 2022 committee denied any wrongdoing in the bid process when contacted by Al Arabiya News.
“The 2022 Bid Committee strictly adhered to FIFA bidding regulations in compliance with their code of ethics,” the spokesman said, reiterating a previous statement.
“The Supreme Committee For Delivery & Legacy and the individual involved in the 2022 Bid Committee are unaware of any allegations surrounding business dealings between private individuals.”
But the Qatari response has drawn curiosity from Dorsey.
“I found the statement to be an interesting formulation. It said that those involved in the Qatari bid were unaware of allegations about private business dealings. In other words they didn't deny the business dealings but said they were unaware of any allegations.”