A vice president of soccer’s governing body denied allegations he received favors for backing Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup in a vote already marred by accusations of corruption.
FIFA executive Issa Hayatou is also the head of African soccer. In a statement, the Confederation of African Football called the corruption allegations by The Sunday Times newspaper “fanciful” and “ridiculous.”
The British newspaper said that banned former Qatari official Mohammed bin Hammam, once a FIFA vice president, targeted African officials with cash gifts, luxury trips and other favors to influence the voting four years ago.
Among the denials, Hayatou said bin Hammam did not arrange treatment for him at a private clinic in return for support. The African federation also said Hayatou did not receive “valuable gifts” on a trip to Doha and has “never received any money” from Bin Hammam, the emir of Qatar or any member of the Qatar bid committee.
Hayatou was one of four Africans on FIFA’s executive committee when it chose Russia and Qatar as World Cup host countries for 2018 and 2022 in a process tarnished by accusations of vote buying. Ultimately, only three of those African members voted after Nigeria’s Amos Adamu was suspended from the votes and later banned from soccer for three years for seeking bribes during the bidding. Adamu was exposed in an undercover investigation by The Sunday Times.
The Sunday Times now says bin Hammam used slush funds to make payments to accounts controlled by the presidents of 30 African soccer associations as part of an attempt to eventually influence the voting African members on the executive committee.
The African federation said Hayatou “denied categorically” the string of allegations. The organization said the allegations include:
–Hayatou received expensive gifts from bin Hammam on a trip to Doha in December 2009, a year before the World Cup vote.
–He was involved in a payment of $400,000 to the soccer federation in his native Cameroon through FIFA’s Goal project, which bin Hammam headed at the time.
–He received 60 World Cup tickets from bin Hammam just before the December 2010 World Cup vote.
–Bin Hammam arranged for Hayatou, who has suffered from ill health, to be treated at a private clinic after he voted for Qatar to get the World Cup.
–Hayatou accepted luxury accommodation and business class tickets from Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organizing committee.
The Sunday Times said a “senior FIFA insider” had provided it with “hundreds of millions of emails, accounts and other documents” detailing bin Hammam’s attempts to build support for Qatar’s bid using money and favors. Bin Hammam was a member of FIFA’s executive committee for 16 years and president of the Asian Football Confederation, but was expelled from FIFA in 2012 for financial corruption.
Current AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said in a statement Monday he had “grave concerns” over the new allegations against Qatar’s World Cup bid process but was “convinced” the organizing committee “will do their utmost to clear the doubts.”
The 67-year-old Hayatou has been the head of African soccer since 1987. He has said this will be his last term of office.
In 2011, Hayatou was reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee for receiving money from former World Cup marketing company ISL in the mid-1990s. An investigation into a kickbacks scandal involving former FIFA President Joao Havelange found Hayatou accepted $20,000 from ISL. He said the money was for an African federation function and not him personally.
Gerald Imray is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeraldImrayAP
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