Qatar alleged to have used ex-CIA to sabotage Australia’s Fifa World Cup bid
By breaking news
A computer generated impression of one of Qatar’s new World Cup stadiums.
Fifa has been urged to conduct an independent investigation into claims the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid team attempted to sabotage rival bids from Australia and the US.
Australian MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said Qatar should face sanctions, if they are shown to have broken rules imposed by football’s world governing body.
An article published by The Sunday Times alleges the Qatar bid team used a PR agency and former CIA operatives to disseminate fake propaganda about its main competitors, the United States and Australia.
The news outlet said it had received documents from a whistleblower who worked with the Qatar bid.
“It requires a proper independent investigation and Fifa should make clear that will happen,” Collins told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“If the Qataris have broken the rules, they should face some sanctions.”
According to The Sunday Times, the alleged smear campaign included paying a professor US$9000 (NZ$13,200) to write a damning report on the economic cost of a US World Cup, recruiting journalists and bloggers to promote negative stories in the US, Australian and international media, and organising grassroots protests at rugby matches in Australia.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it “rejected” all the claims made by the paper. Qatar beat rival bids from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan for the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
The leaked documents also revealed that a group of American PE teachers had been recruited to ask congressmen to oppose a US World Cup on the grounds the money would be better spent on high school sports, the paper claimed.
Lord Triesman, former chairman of the Football Association and England bid chairman, urged Fifa to “look at the evidence thoroughly”, and said Qatar should not be allowed to “hold on to the World Cup” if they were shown to have broken Fifa rules.
“I think it would not be wrong for Fifa to reconsider England in those circumstances… We have the capabilities,” he told The Sunday Times.
The Qatar bid team has previously been accused of corruption, but was cleared following a two-year inquiry by the Fifa ethics committee.
“The Supreme Committee rejects each and every allegation put forward by The Sunday Times,” Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said in a statement.
“We have strictly adhered to all Fifa’s rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process.”
Fifa said an investigation into the circumstances of the bid had already been carried out and no wrongdoing was found.