Controversy surrounding Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup returned this week amid claims the country’s state broadcaster agreed a $100m payment to FIFA if it secured the finals.
UK publication The Mail on Sunday reports that the allegations are made in a new book by a whistleblower from within Australia’s failed 2022 bid, Bonita Mersiades, who has spent years investigating the voting process.
On top of the promised payment by Al Jazeera, now beIN Sports, Mersiades alleges former FIFA president Sepp Blatter knew Qatar would win before the vote was even conducted.
He was so certain of this that he called US President Barack Obama in the days before the vote to tell him the country’s bid would be unsuccessful, according to the report.
Blatter’s confidence was said to be due to assurances from Michel Platini that he and others on the 22-man Executive Committee voting panel would back Qatar.
At first the former FIFA president was dismayed by Qatar’s win and wanted them stripped of the tournament but did two deals to stop this happening, Mersiades alleges.
These included a guarantee from Qatar’s Emir that the country’s Executive Commitee member Mohamed bin Hammam would not challenge him for the FIFA presidency in 2011.
Hammam would later be banned from football for life in December 2012 for violations of FIFA’s code of ethics during his terms as Asian Football Confederation President and as a member of the executive committee in the 2008-2011 period.
Prior to this, another deal before the vote in December 2010 was for the $100m payment from beIN Sports due to concerns of a financial shortfall if Qatar won.
The Mail on Sunday said the broadcaster did not deny the payment but said it was for “production contributions” that are standard market practice.
“There is clearly a significant uplift in interest and additional revenues to a broadcaster and significant additional local production costs to a rights holder when a major sports event is awarded in a broadcaster’s domestic market,” it was quoted as saying.
“The relevant media agreements were stand alone from any bid, and were in no way intended to influence the outcome of the vote.”
The deal was agreed with the knowledge of secretary general of FIFA at the time Jérôme Valcke, who allegedly received a 5 per cent share for negotiating the deal. He was later banned from football for nine years for corruption.