Allegations of corruption have dogged Qatar’s successful bid to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup since the stunning announcement was made in Zurich in December 2010.
After previously making only an edited and summarised version of former New York attorney Michael Garcia’s report available, the news that the extensive document had been leaked to German newspaper Bild has prompted FIFA to make the findings available in full.
Here, we highlight the key conclusions regarding Qatar’s bid.
NO SMOKING GUN OVER GOVERNMENT INVESTMENT
Garcia acknowledged that the closeness of the working ties between the Qatari government and the bid team prompted suspicion, but ultimately found no proof of any wrongdoing.
“The relationship between the Qatari government and the bid team generated controversy even prior to the December 2, 2010 World Cup vote,” he wrote.
“Statements such as those found in the official minutes, as well as other connections between government entities and the bid team, have helped create an appearance of impropriety.
“Whatever speculation that may have resulted from the links with QIA [Qatar Investment Authority] or the broad statement of support by the Qatar government does not rise to the level of credible allegations.”
BUT SOUR_PIGGY’S ROLE REMAINS A MYSTERY
Garcia dedicates significant energy in his report to the role of ‘Joe Sim’, real name Hong Chye Sim, who used the unusual email address ‘sour_piggy’, and presented himself as a businessman and senior advisor to the Thailand Football Association, and who appeared to enjoy a close relationship with Thailand’s FA President and FIFA Executive Committee member Worawi Makudi.
While unable to identify a specific instance of wrongdoing, Garcia wrote: “It was plainly inappropriate for Mr. Sim, an advisor to the Thai FA, to simultaneously negotiate football sponsorships and LNG [liquid natural gas] sales with Qatari energy leaders months before the December 2010 World Cup vote, given Qatar’s bid to host and Mr. Makudi’s status as a voting member of FIFA’s Executive Committee.”
PLATINI IN THE CLEAR OVER SARKOZY MEETING
It has previously been claimed that a meal attended by then-French president Nicolas Sarkozy, high-ranking Qatari officials and former UEFA president Michel Platini influenced the latter’s voting decision for the 2022 event in favour of the Gulf nation.
Garcia, though, determined that: “Without more [information], inquiry into the scope of investment by one sovereign nation in the territory of another is well beyond the… the Investigatory Chamber’s authority and the subject matter of this report. On this record, no evidence has been uncovered linking Mr. Platini’s vote to any such investment and accordingly the Investigatory Chamber finds no further action is necessary.”
ASPIRE ACADEMY EXPLOITED
Garcia questioned the motives behind Qatar 2022’s relationship with Aspire Academy, a local state-of-the-art sporting facility that hosted numerous youth teams from around the world during the lead-up to the bidding process.
“Aspire Academy was… a valuable asset for Qatar’s bid team… it was [a] strategy to use that facility as a means to confer benefits on Executive Committee members,” Garcia wrote.
“At a minimum, the targeting of Aspire-related resources to curry favour with Executive Committee members created the appearance of impropriety. Those actions served to undermine the integrity of the bidding process.”
BRAZIL V ARGENTINA IN DOHA
The financing arrangements for an international friendly between Brazil and Argentina in Doha in 2010 come under considerable scrutiny from Garcia, including the extraordinary concessions made to former Brazil Football Confederation [CBF] president Ricardo Teixeira.
“Even relative to the five-star accommodations the players and top football officials enjoyed, the amenities provided to Mr. Teixeira for the Brazil-Argentina match were excessive… the considerable costs related to the visit by Mr. Teixeira, the only Executive Committee member among the CBF and AFA delegations in Qatar, were paid for by Qatar’s bid team,” Garcia wrote.
“The trip to Doha for the friendly match was not ostensibly related to the bid.
“Nevertheless, Qatar 2022 paid for Mr. Teixeira’s lavish accommodations apparently because of his status as a voting Executive Committee member.
“This was a benefit provided to Mr. Teixeira by the bid team and would appear to violate both the bidding rules and the FIFA ethics provisions in force at the time.”
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