Report: Bin Hammam Gave Cash, Gifts To FIFA Officials In 2022 Qatar World Cup Runup
The senior football official at the center of the 2022 Qatar World Cup corruption scandal "received millions of pounds in mystery payments while authorising cash and gifts" for a string of FIFA officials including President Sepp Blatter, according to Brown & Farmery of the LONDON TIMES. The payments "are disclosed in the report of a secret investigation" that was ordered by the Asian Football Confederation into the activities of "disgraced" former President Mohamed bin Hammam. Bin Hammam, who was also FIFA VP, has been accused of paying $5M in bribes to African football officials to secure the World Cup for Qatar in '22. The investigation report by the consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers "raises serious questions" about the payments unrelated to the 2022 World Cup bid. It highlights a $1B “commercial rights” deal between the AFC and World Sport Football Ltd. and "a broadcast contract signed with al-Jazeera." The report says that World Sport Football was awarded the rights for '13-20 "without the contract going to tender." PwC said that the contract "overstated WSF’s true costs" by an estimated £250M ($418M). It stated, “However, no direct evidence has been identified to confirm a link between the payments purportedly for the benefit of Mr bin Hammam and the awarding of the [rights agreement].” The investigation concluded, “Further work is warranted to determine if there is any relationship between the awarding of the contract to WSF and al-Jazeera and the significant payments made to Mr. bin Hammam” (LONDON TIMES, 6/4). The BBC reported Qatari officials were questioned by FIFA investigator Michael Garcia on Wednesday. The Qatari bid committee "vehemently" denied the claims and insisted Bin Hammam "never actively lobbied on its behalf." Qatar's bid committee said it was "co-operating with Garcia's inquiry." The committee added, "We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter" (BBC, 6/4).
QATAR REACTION: In London, Robert Booth reported the Qatari press has reported that the allegations "has focused strongly on the organisers' denials of any wrongdoing rather than the details of the claims themselves." On Monday, the Qatar Tribune led with "the robust rebuttal from the Qatar 2022 supreme committee, while it relegated the story to a three-inch column" reporting on how the AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain, "believed the doubts about the bidding process raised by the allegations 'will be cleared up soon.''' An unnamed Qatari sports official said, "People here feel frustrated. Why are people attacking us like this?" Another official said the claims in the Sunday Times were "ridiculous," "entirely predictable" and "nothing new." A Bangladeshi driver "plying his trade on the coastal Corniche road" summed up another strain of reaction to the bribery allegation, saying, "I am 99 percent sure it's true. What they are building here is a bubble and it is not real." When asked if he thought the bid was corrupt, he said, "Yes. On the outside they wear white, but on the inside they are black" (GUARDIAN, 6/3).
HELP ON THE WAY: In London, Pank, Dickinson & Farmery reported former FA Exec Dir David Davies "is working to help save" the World Cup. Davies flew into Doha on Saturday night. Davies, who describes himself as a freelance consultant, said, "I have a number of friends who are part of the bid and I meet with them and of course we talk about things that are to do with the World Cup. It is a very unofficial thing.'' Davies "refused to disclose which Qatari football officials he had met," but said that "he had not talked to" Bin Hammam for some years (LONDON TIMES, 6/4).