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Qatar cleared of World Cup corruption charges by FIFA while England 'violated bidding rules'

By Tom Anstey    13 Nov 2014
Qatar contentiously won the 2010 bid to host the 2022 World Cup / Shutterstock.com

Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup after FIFA cleared the country of corruption charges in relation to the bidding process, but lambasted the conduct of the bid from England 2018.

The 42-page document – an investigation into bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups – was based on an 18-month inquiry conducted by attorney Michael Garcia.

The vote, which took place in 2010, saw Russia awarded the 2018 World Cup ahead of England and joint bids by Holland/Belgium and Spain/Portugal, while Qatar won the 2022 bid, overcoming the US, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

The report states that “any rule breaches by the bidding countries were “of very limited scope”, and that the effects of these occurrences on the bidding process as a whole were “far from reaching any threshold that would require returning to the bidding process, let alone reopening it.”

Qatari national and former FIFA executive Mohamed Bin Hammam was banned for life by the body because of alleged bribery and corruption within the organisation. The report clears Qatar of any involvement with Bin Hammam, stating he was “distant” from the bid committee and that any payments made to Jack Warner and certain African officials were connected with his challenge for the Fifa presidency in 2011.

England was castigated by FIFA for its attempts to entice disgraced former FIFA-vice president Jack Warner, thus “violating bidding rules”. Fifa said the bid team “often accommodated Mr Warner’s wishes, in apparent violation of bidding rules and the FIFA code of ethics” – with examples including paying the bill for a £35,000 (€28,000, £22,200) gala dinner for Caribbean officials and providing “substantial assistance” for a training camp for the under-20 Trinidad and Tobago team in 2009, among other things.

Russia and Australia were also criticised in the report, with the Russians failing to provide copies of all emails from the bid organisation on the basis that its computer equipment has since been replaced, while Australia also made efforts to entice Warner and the Oceania head Reynald Temarii, including providing money for development projects.

A statement included in the report said: “FIFA welcomes the fact that a degree of closure has been reached. As such, FIFA looks forward to continuing the preparations for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, which are already well underway.

“FIFA acknowledges the recommendations mentioned in the statement with regard to improving the bidding process for future FIFA World Cups, but also notes the comments of the chairman of the adjudicatory chamber regarding the bidding process for the 2018/2022 World Cups as ‘well-thought, robust and professional’.”

UK Conservative MP Damian Collins, who in 2011 used parliamentary privilege to make the allegations that bribes helped secure Qatar the tournament, called the report a “whitewash”, stating it was an attempt to con people that there has been a full and independent investigation when there has not been.”

“This is FIFA investigating itself and not surprisingly returning a verdict of not guilty,” he said in a statement. “The points being made about the England bid are just a smokescreen to try to hide these facts.”

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