Wed, Dec 10, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Qatar offered bribe to African officials: FIFA whistle-blower

AFP, PARIS

The Qatari team that made the controversial winning bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup offered large sums of money to senior African soccer figures for their respective federations, former FIFA communications director Phaedra Almajid has claimed.

Almajid told weekly magazine France Football that she had been present when the offers were made, but did not witness money changing hands.

Almajid gave evidence under condition of anonymity to the FIFA inquiry into the corruption allegations surrounding the 2018 bid won by Russia and the 2022 race led by former US federal prosecutor Michael Garcia. However, her identity was controversially revealed by FIFA’s ethics chief Hans-Joachim Eckert.

The whistle-blower told the magazine that one meeting took place in the suite of a hotel in the Angolan capital of Luanda in January 2010 during the African Football Confederation congress ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations.

She recounted that somebody in the room said “how delighted they [the Qataris] were that a high-ranking African football director was present in the room and they wished to benefit his federation to the tune of a million {US] dollars.”

“This man [the director] replied without looking at the Qatari: ‘Ah, a million dollars... Why not a million-and-a-half [US] dollars,’” said Almajid, who lost her job in 2010.

“And the Qatari, he said he hoped he [the director] could count on his support. The fellow assured him that was the case, and that was that,” she added.

She said the same thing occurred with two other high-ranking African soccer personalities, but she did not identify them.

Almajid was scathing about Eckert identifying her in his summary of Garcia’s report, in which he ruled out a revote for either the 2018 or 2022 finals.

“Eckert and FIFA were not loyal towards me,” she told France Football. “[Eckert] threw me to the lions in identifying me in the report.”

Almajid was offered protection by the FBI after threats were made to her and her children,

Controversy has stalked the 2022 World Cup since Qatar’s bid. Even the presentation of Garcia’s report was polemic after the American said FIFA had misrepresented his findings.

Eckert’s summary of Garcia’s investigation cleared Russia and Qatar, but Garcia said he would appeal the findings’ “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions” in his report.

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