Qatar's 2022 World Cup organising committee has told the Daily Telegraph it “strictly adhered to FIFA's bidding regulations” after the newspaper published a report claiming the FBI was investigating payments made to the governing body’s former vice-president Jack Warner.
The Telegraph reported that documents have emerged appearing to show that a company owned by Qatari former FIFA Executive Committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam had paid Warner $1.2 million in 2011, shortly after the Gulf state won the vote to stage the 2022 tournament.
The newspaper said further payments totalling close to $750,000 were shown to have been made to Warner’s sons and an additional $400,000 went to one of his employees and adds: “It is understood that the FBI is now investigating Trinidad-based Mr Warner and his alleged links to the Qatari bid, and that the former FIFA official’s eldest son, who lives in Miami, has been helping the inquiry as a co-operating witness.”
Qatar denies any wrongdoing, and a spokesman for the World Cup organising committee told the Telegraph: “The 2022 bid committee strictly adhered to FIFA's bidding regulations in compliance with their code of ethics. The supreme committee for delivery and legacy and the individuals involved in the 2022 bid committee are unaware of any allegations surrounding business dealings between private individuals.”
Warner, who served as vice-president for 14 years, and Bin Hammam, who had contested the last FIFA presidential election, both left the governing body in 2011 after being suspended by the Ethics Committee following a corruption scandal.
Warner denies any wrongdoing.
"I have no interest in joining in the foolishness that is now passing as news on Qatar and Jack Warner," he said in a statement. "Nor do I intend to join those who are on a witch hunt against the World Cup 2022 venue. And do consider this as my final comment on this matter."
The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has caused significant problems amid concerns over summer temperatures in the Gulf state and the difficulties of moving it to the winter, while there have been protests over alleged abuse of migrant workers working on sites for the tournament.
Germany’s Die Welt am Sonntag recently quoted an unnamed FIFA employee as saying the World Cup could be reassigned to another country amid those controversies. The report also cited the potential impact of a report into corruption in the voting process, which is apparently due to be released this year. However, FIFA president Sepp Blatter later told Sport Bild that the tournament would not be moved.
There have been longstanding allegations over impropriety in the vote, with FIFA ExCo member Reynald Temarii having been filmed by London’s Sunday Times newspaper saying he wanted $2.3 million to fund a soccer academy in New Zealand in the months prior to the decision. The Times later submitted evidence to politicians claiming two other ExCo members had been paid $1.5 million to vote for Qatar, and former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman accused another four of requesting gifts in return for their support for England’s bid to host the 2018 tournament.