Monday, November 19, 2012

FIFA to Investigate Qatar World Cup Bid?

A former sports administrator, Dr. Amos Adamu, and his son, Samson, have been accused of financial impropriety in the bidding for Qatar 2022 World Cup.

The accusation was contained in a detailed report by The Sunday Times of London, which called on FIFA to probe the alleged $1 million bribery offer.

Based on this, FIFA, the world football governing body, has now called on its top investigator to examine evidence that the winners of the right to host the 2022 World Cup secretly offered $1 million (N150 million) to Samson, aged 26, whose father was then a member of FIFA's executive committee.

Documents passed to FIFA by The Sunday Times showed that the Qatar bid team offered the cash to Samson.

The money, it was alleged, was to fund a dinner and workshop on the eve of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, though it cost only a fraction of the sum offered.

The deal was brokered by the Deputy Chief Executive of the Qatar bid, Ali al-Thawadi, months before the contest in December 2010 to host the 2022 World Cup.

Al-Thawadi denied knowledge of the offer when contacted (by The Sunday Times) last week. However, after being presented with the evidence, Qatar 2022 lawyers accepted there had been discussions and a contract had been drawn up, but said the team had later backed out of the deal after considering the "relevant FIFA rules."
Amos Adamu is a former member of the FIFA Executive Committee who was suspended and fined by FIFA after journalists for the Sunday Times secretly taped meetings with him in which they offered payments in exchange for his vote, in this case for the US bid.

Adamu appealed the suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. That proceeding should have raised suspicion about the Qatari bid. A transcript of the Sunday Times secret recording of Adamu is included in the proceedings of that appeal published by CAS in 2011 (here in PDF).

In it Adamu explains that the "bribe" (characterized as money for football development in Nigeria) is to be channeled through his son. He also explained to the undercover reporters posing as representatives of US business interests that he had already committed his vote for 2022. The exchange below picks up after Adamu has explained to the reporters that he votes his conscience (from p. 16):
59 Male Reporter: We understand. But you will vote for the USA, yes?
62 Female Reporter: Because obviously that’s what the consortium want to guarantee.

63 Amos Adamu: I know, I know, I know, that is a guarantee. That is, that is a, that is all
about the guarantees.

64 Male Reporter: You guarantee that you vote for in 2018 and 2022?

65 Amos Adamu: No. 2022, I have my commitments.

66 Male Reporter: Right.

67 Amos Adamu: 2022, I have my commitments.

68 Male Reporter: OK, so 2018 you’ll vote for.

69 Amos Adamu: Yeah, 2018 but are they going for the two?

70 Both Reporters: Yes.

72 Female Reporter: So it would be 2018, that you would be able to help us with?

73 Amos Adamu: 2022, I’ve already given my word to some other bid.
Adamu later admitted in the CAS proceedings that it was indeed Qatar to whom he had given his commitment.

To the journalists from the Sunday Times he at least hinted that Qatar had secured his vote in similar fashion to the approach they were taking:
367 Male Reporter: I wonder one question, say the Middle East, an African country’s might favour Qatar for instance ... cause it’s quite to ... it would be unusual to have one of the Middle East.

368 Amos Adamu: No, because Qatar has always been working hard.

369 Male Reporter: They’re working hard.

370 Amos Adamu: Yes. I think they knew they are going to host, they are going to bid to host this thing long ago and then they have been on it for quite over four years, talking to people, who wanted, who wanted, who wanted…

371 Female Reporter: Yeah. What can we do for you?

372 Amos Adamu: Yes.

374 Female Reporter: You must get tired of all these offers? Must be the same conversations, over and over again?

375 Amos Adamu: But, it’s good for the game.

376 Female Reporter: Yeah. Yeah, it’s good for Nigeria.

377 ff Amos Adamu: Good for the game. It’s good. I’d be happy to have the facilities for my country. It’s a good contribution to the game.

382 Male Reporter: Yeah. It’s interesting, because it’s now everyone saying the same sort of thing. It’s interesting to know ...

383 Amos Adamu: Yeah, yeah everybody saying almost the same thing.
The Qatari World Cup committee has denied the most recent allegations, observing that they stepped back from the financial arrangement with Adamu's son after recognizing its impropriety.

As it did previously, The Sunday Times has again shared its information with FIFA, which replied:
The paper said it had passed the file to FIFA and that a spokesman had confirmed the relevant information had been "immediately forwarded" to Garcia.

"It will be for Michael Garcia to analyse the documents and decide on any potential next steps," FIFA was quoted as saying.
FIFA has had other opportunities to open a formal investigation of the awarding of the 2022 World Cup, but as yet, has not. Perhaps this time will be different.

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