British PM Cameron Says FIFA Should Be Allowed To Finish Qatar World Cup Investigation
Pressure is growing on FIFA to strip Qatar of hosting the 2022 World Cup "if new allegations of corruption are proved," according to Farmery, Dickinson & Pitel of the LONDON TIMES. However, British PM David Cameron said that FIFA "should be allowed to conclude its investigation," and hinted that "the vote may have to be held again." Cameron: "David Beckham, Prince William and I were the team that tried to win for Britain the 2018 World Cup. Every single person we met whether it was the head of the FA in this part of the world, or that part of the world, they all said yes of course we’re going to vote for England to host the World Cup, and then they voted completely the other way, and we ended up I think with one vote. I’ll always remember Beckham saying to me afterwards, I can cope with being lied to, but I can’t cope with people lying to the prime minister and the future king" (LONDON TIMES, 6/2). In London, Nicholas Watt reported Cameron also indicated that he "would not support stripping Russia of the World Cup in 2018 after its annexation of Crimea." Cameron: "As for the future of the World Cup in 2018, generally speaking we should try to keep sport and politics separated. We should use that as a rule. In extremis there are occasions -- Zimbabwe, South Africa -- where it is right to not take part in sporting occasions" (GUARDIAN, 6/2).
FIFA BOSSES QUIET: The AP reported FIFA's top two officials, Sepp Blatter and Jerome Valcke, "remained silent" on Monday about the situation. Blatter was at a ceremony with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia, but he "did not take questions." Valcke spoke at the opening of the World Cup media center in Rio de Janeiro and when asked about Qater, "he shook his head several times and kept walking without saying a word" (AP, 6/2).
"GRAVE CONCERNS": The BBC reported Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa "expressed 'grave concerns' over the allegations." Sheikh Salman said he was "convinced" the Qatar committee would do "their utmost to clear the doubts" (BBC, 6/2). The BBC's David Bond reported at the center of the allegations is Qatar's former FIFA VP Mohamed Bin Hammam, at one stage "one of the most powerful men in world football." He "was kicked out of FIFA after he was caught offering bribes to Caribbean officials in his bid to oust" FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Using a construction company as a front, the Sunday Times said that "he paid bribes" of £3M ($5M) to football officials in Africa, Australasia and the Caribbean "to guarantee that support." Qatar 2022 also said that Bin Hammam "wasn't part of their bidding team" -- a stance it continues to maintain following the release of a statement on Sunday in which it said that he played no "official or unofficial" role (BBC, 6/2).
MORE U.K. REACTION: In London, Owen Gibson reported senior FIFA figures "are for the first time seriously considering the ramifications of ordering a rerun of the vote for the right to stage the 2022 World Cup." While awaiting the results of a semi-independent inquiry into the '18 and '22 bidding races, senior football figures heading for the '14 tournament in Brazil "are understood to be considering their response if the report recommends a new vote in light of new claims based on hundreds of millions of leaked emails and documents." The U.K. government "has previously said the corruption allegations are a matter for FIFA." But Sports Minister Helen Grant "signalled a shift." Grant: "These appear to be very serious allegations. It is essential that major sporting events are awarded in an open, fair and transparent manner" (GUARDIAN, 6/2). In London, Matt Dickinson reported FIFA VP Jim Boyce said a re-vote is "a possibility." Boyce said that new evidence must be "thoroughly examined" by FIFA Chief Investigator Michael Garcia (LONDON TIMES, 6/2). REUTERS' Young & Mulvenney reported if the "unprecedented decision was taken to re-run the vote," it is fair to assume that the losers in the '10 ballot, who had already spent millions of dollars satisfying the technical criteria for a bid, "would be in the frame." The "convoluted way the 2018 and 2022 bidding processes became intertwined muddies the waters somewhat," but the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Australia "could all claim to have been most hard-done-by if any corruption was proven" (REUTERS, 6/2).
PROVING THE POINT: In London, Andrew Warshaw wrote Qatar 2022 General Secretary Hassan al-Thawadi "has admitted many times that some of the more vitriolic criticism about Qatar’s bid campaign and standards of behaviour has been painful to hear." His country, he said, "won fairly and squarely and behaved with total integrity." He "used the same language when it became clear that a one-off winter World Cup was becoming increasingly likely." And when Qatar’s human rights record "was brought into sharp focus." Neither of those two factors, however powerful they might be, "justifies the tournament being taken away from Qatar." Rightly or wrongly, that "can only happen if there is clear proof that Qatar broke bidding regulations." So far, "there has been no firm evidence to suggest that it did" (INDEPENDENT, 6/2).