German paper re­veals se­cret FIFA re­port into Qatar 2022 cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions

Tehran Times - - WORLD SPORT -

Qatar’s suc­cess­ful bid for the 2022 World Cup looks set to be­come mired in fresh con­tro­versy after the leak­ing of a se­cret FIFA re­port into the 2010 bid­ding con­tests.

That highly con­tro­ver­sial process saw Rus­sia beat sev­eral Euro­pean bids, in­clud­ing Eng­land’s, to win the right to host the 2018 World Cup and the tiny but wealthy Gulf state over­come the likes of the United States for 2022.

After re­peated claims about cor­rup­tion in the run-up to those votes, FIFA asked its then-chief ethics in­ves­ti­ga­tor Michael Gar­cia to com­pile a re­port into the bid­ding na­tions for both World Cup, which he produced in 2014.

His 430-page in­ves­ti­ga­tion has never been pub­lished be­fore – FIFA, in­stead, put out a 42-page sum­mary which Gar­cia promptly dis­owned – but now German news­pa­per Bild has ob­tained a copy of the orig­i­nal.

It is un­der­stood that its con­tents will be pub­lished in two parts but the lead jour­nal­ist Peter Ross­berg be­gan re­leas­ing ex­tracts via so­cial me­dia on Mon­day night – the early in­di­ca­tions are that his scoop will heap more sus­pi­cion on Qatar’s bid, in par­tic­u­lar.

Among the early rev­e­la­tions from the Gar­cia re­port are claims that the Qataris flew three mem­bers of FIFA’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee to a party in Rio on a private jet shortly be­fore the De­cem­ber 2010 vote on the 2018/2022 hosts, the Qatari bid used ac­cess to its state-of-the-art Aspire sports academy to in­flu­ence vot­ers and £1.6mil­lion was sent to a bank ac­count be­long­ing to the 10-year-old daugh­ter of an­other ExCo voter.

That last al­le­ga­tion was first made by the Daily Tele­graph in 2014 and there is a sense from what has emerged so far that much of this has been heard be­fore – Ross­berg him­self wrote on Face­book that there are “no sur­prises” for any­body who has fol­lowed this story closely. In fact, he goes on to write that “the re­port does not pro­vide proof that World Cup 2018 or 2022 has been bought”.

But he then ac­cu­rately de­scribes the Gar­cia re­port as an­other piece in the puz­zle and sug­gests that only when all those pieces are put to­gether will the com­plete pic­ture be ob­vi­ous.

The Bild ex­clu­sive also re­veals how world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body sani­tised Gar­cia’s find­ings in the sum­mary of his re­port by FIFA ethics judge Joachim Eck­ert.

In a sec­tion on how the Qatari bid used Aspire, which had satel­lite op­er­a­tions in five coun­tries with FIFA vot­ers, to “curry favour with ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­bers”, Gar­cia wrote “those ac­tions served to un­der­mine the in­tegrity of the bid­ding process”.

But Eck­ert trans­lated this as “po­ten­tially prob­lem­atic facts and cir­cum­stances” which “were, all in all, not suited to com­pro­mise the in­tegrity of the Fifa World Cup 2018/2022 bid­ding process as a whole”.

It is lit­tle won­der that an in­dig­nant Gar­cia re­turned to the US ac­cus­ing Eck­ert of mak­ing “nu­mer­ous ma­te­ri­ally in­com­plete and er­ro­neous rep­re­sen­ta­tions”.

Whether the ap­pear­ance of his com­plete work will cor­rect any of those rep­re­sen­ta­tions enough to threaten Qatar’s stag­ing of the World Cup is de­bat­able, as the once-in­cred­i­ble project has with­stood ev­ery­thing that has been thrown at it so far and there ap­pears to be lit­tle ap­petite at FIFA to re­visit its most con­tentious de­ci­sion.

That does not mean, how­ever, Qatar 2022 is out of the woods, though, as crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the bid, some fu­elled by Gar­cia’s early work, con­tinue in France, Switzer­land and else­where, while the coun­try’s diplo­matic row with its Gulf neigh­bours will raise se­ri­ous ques­tions about its suit­abil­ity to stage a ma­jor global event if it is not re­solved in the com­ing months.

FIFA has been con­tacted for com­ment.

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