After being accused of purchasing votes in order to secure the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, a key official has been forced to deny explosive bribery allegations once more. (Qatar FIFA World Cup)
A Netflix documentary that was released this week makes claims that a Qatari official offered voters in Africa more than $AUD6 million to help secure hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup.
The four-part television show “FIFA Uncovered” directly asked Qatari official Hassan Al-Thawadi, who led the bid campaign in 2010 and is now in charge of the World Cup organizing committee, if he was involved in offering $1.5 million (AUD2.27 million) in bribes to each of three African FIFA voters.
Phaedra Almajid, a whistleblower, has claimed for more than a decade that she was in Al-Thawadi’s room in a hotel in Angola in January 2010 when money was offered to the three men, who were among 24 voters who were set to choose the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups later that year.
In a FIFA vote, Qatar was chosen to host the tournament in 2022 ahead of Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Russia was chosen to host the tournament in 2018 during a joint announcement in 2010.
It is alleged that Al Thawadi, who is currently Secretary-general of the Supreme Committee in charge of the 2022 World Cup, offered to Issa Hayatou (Cameroon), Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), and Amos Adamu (Nigeria).
According to Almajid in the documentary, we were discussing how Africa had been given the opportunity to host the World Cup and how the Arab world ought to be given the same opportunity. Then Hassan made an offer to Hayatou of one million dollars for his football federation, Cameroon, in exchange for his vote. (Qatar FIFA World Cup)
I recall there being a lot of laughter before he said, “That is not enough,” and the price was immediately raised to A$2.3 million. It was so straight forward: If you vote for us, we will give you this money to support your football organization.
“We did the same thing with Anouma and Adamu one by one. Each member was offered $2.3 million in exchange for their vote that evening. I never saw any money; it was verbal.”
Almajid asserts that rather than individual FIFA members, the alleged bribes were paid to football federations.
She continued that it was made abundantly clear that the money would be used for football; it was never mentioned that it would be put in your pocket; I must emphasize that. I have no idea where it ended up.
“I was like, ‘OK.'” “Before I went back to my hotel room, Hassan told me, “You never repeat this ever to anyone.””
However, the allegations against Qatar 2022 chief Al-Thawadi and the three African FIFA members in question have been strongly denied.
My reaction, particularly regarding the Phaedra case involving the whistleblower, is frustration. When asked about the bribery allegations made against him, Al-Thawadi told interviewers for the Netflix show that “they are inherently false and there are facts on the ground that prove they are false.”
Long after Qatar’s victory in the FIFA executive committee vote in December 2010, Almajid’s claims added to a cloud of suspicion. The Qatar bid team has always maintained that it followed FIFA’s campaign rules.
In May 2011, a British parliamentary hearing that received evidence from The Sunday Times newspaper detailed the alleged offers to African voters. They accused Issa Hayatou, Jacques Anouma, and a third man, Amos Adamu, who were suspended by FIFA for financial misconduct prior to the World Cup votes, and they were denied by them.
Almajid was working on the international media relations for the bid while he was in Angola, but he was fired quickly.
She then gave evidence in a FIFA-appointed investigation of the 2018-2022 bidders led by Michael Garcia, a former US Attorney in New York who is now a state court judge. (Qatar FIFA World Cup)
Almajid’s evidence was dismissed in Garcia’s 2014 report, which FIFA did not publish in its entirety until 2017. It came to the conclusion that she was wrong about a Qatari bid official seeing the offers and that she had changed her evidence.
Almajid reiterated her claims to “FIFA Uncovered,” stating that the money was provided to African national soccer organizations rather than the men themselves.
Netflix is broadcasting the FIFA narrative under about fourteen days before the World Cup begins on November 21st.