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France Football claims to have evidence that Qatar 'bought the World Cup'

The magazine says the awarding of football’s most prestigious tournament had ‘a whiff of scandal’ about it.

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, holds the World Cup trophy after the announcement of Qatar hosting the 2022 tournament.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, holds the World Cup trophy after the announcement of Qatar hosting the 2022 tournament.
Image: Anja Niedringhaus/AP/Press Association Images

FRANCE FOOTBALL MAGAZINE has raised questions about FIFA’s awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, alleging it was tainted by corruption and collusion involving top figures in the game.

The weekly publication said in its latest edition published today that the awarding of football’s most prestigious tournament had “a whiff of scandal that begs the only question worth asking: should the vote be declared null and void?”.

To back up its claims, the magazine, which dubbed the affair “Qatargate”, quoted what it said was an internal email in which FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke allegedly said that the tiny Gulf state had “bought the 2022 World Cup”.

Valcke subsquently claimed a misunderstanding and insisted that the tone of the email was “light-hearted”.

France Football also quoted former FIFA media chief Guido Tognoni, who was kicked out of the organisation in 2003, as saying he believed there were “strong suspicions” that members were compromised over the €33.75 million Qatari bid. Key figures in making Qatar’s case included the now-banned former Asian football chief Mohammed Bin Hammam, FIFA vice-president Julio Grondona of Argentina and Ricardo Teixeira, who quit Brazil’s football federation and FIFA over graft claims.

The magazine also said there was a “secret meeting” at the French presidential palace in Paris on November 23, 2010 — some 10 days before the crucial vote to decide the 2022 competition venue.

Attending were then-president Nicolas Sarkozy, Qatari prince Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani, UEFA president Michel Platini and Sebastien Bazin, representing Paris Saint-Germain owners Colony Capital, who at the time were in financial difficulty.

- © AFP, 2012

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