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08 Jun 2014 09:07
Mohamed Bin Hammam at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on March 18 2011. (Bazuki Muhammad, Reuters)
Fifa’s decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar came under further scrutiny as a British newspaper published new
allegations that Mohamed Bin Hammam used his wealth and top level
contacts to buy support for the oil-rich country’s successful bid.
The Sunday Times, which last week claimed that the
former Fifa vice-president made payments worth $5-million to senior
football officials to seal support for Qatar, also accused Bin Hammam of
using $1.7-million to secure key Asian votes.
It alleged that Bin Hammam arranged government level
talks for Thailand’s Fifa executive Worawi Makudi to discuss a gas sale
“potentially worth tens of millions of dollars to Thailand” and that he
was invited to visit Vladimir Putin before Russia and Qatar’s victories
in the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Under a front-page headline of “Gas deal turns heat on
World Cup”, the newspaper alleged that Bin Hammam arranged meeting and
favours for voters in the months leading to the ballots.
The 2010 vote, which awarded football’s biggest
tournament to the tiny desert state, is under investigation by Fifa’s
independent ethics prosecutor. Qatar organisers deny any wrongdoing.
In a statement released on Saturday following its executive committee’s second meeting of the year in São Paulo, Fifa said
“the executive reaffirmed its position of letting the ethics committee
complete its work before making any comment”.
According to the newspaper, which says it had access to
millions of secret documents during its investigation, Bin Hammam
brokered two secret meetings with Qatari royals to discuss a major gas
deal with a senior aide to Makudi.
“The exact nature of the deal on the table is unclear,
but it came as Thailand sought to save tens of millions of pounds by
renegotiating an arrangement with Qatar to purchase 1m tons of liquefied
natural gas each year at a contractual price it considered too high,”
the newspaper said.
The Sunday Times said that Makudi denied that he had
received a personal “concession” from his involvement but did not
Bin Hammam is no longer a committee member of world
football’s governing body after being caught up in a corruption scandal
surrounding his failed campaign for its presidency in 2011.
The Sunday Times claimed that the $1.7-million Bin Hammam paid
to Asian officials from funds controlled by his private company Kemco
were used as he was campaigning for both the Qatar World Cup bid and for
his own re-election to the post of president of the Asian Football
The newspaper said he was invited to a meeting by
Russia to discuss “bilateral relations” in sport between Qatar and
Russia on October 30 2010, a month before the vote on the bids.
“Two days later, Qatar’s ruling emir also flew to
Moscow for talks about joint gas production deals between the two
countries,” the paper said.
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