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FIFA under pressure on Qatar World Cup

|TAP Special| The release of a new book, titled The Ugly Game, which claims to contain damning evidence of malpractices within FIFA, is ominously coinciding with a forthcoming debate by European lawmakers on the controversial decision awarding Qatar the right to host 2022 World Cup.

The members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have been very critical of the voting process for the award of the 2022 tournament.

The book titled, ‘The Ugly Game: The Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup’ contains evidence allegedly showing the extensive bribery and corruption that went on behind FIFA’s closed doors.

FIFA has stood by its decision to award Qatar the hosting rights for the 2022 world cup despite a recent clamour about corruption and fraud in FIFA’s processes. The new developments are expected to put FIFA under more intense pressure for a review of the 2022 award.

There are several instances of the Qatar connection being mentioned in the FIFA indictment by the US District Court.

The Qatar connection comes in the form of Co-Conspirator #7, whose name has not been disclosed, but has been referred to as a high-ranking official of FIFA and Asian Football Confederation at various times relevant to the indictment. The obvious reference is to Mohammed bin Hammam, who has since been banned for life from football by FIFA in separate incidents. But he is not among the indicted in the present case.

According to the document, in July 2011, the Qatari co-conspirator caused $1,211,980 to be wired from an account that he controlled at Doha Bank in Qatar, to a correspondent account at Citibank, for credit to an account held in the name of one of the accused at the Intercommercial Bank in Trinidad and Tobago.

He was also found to have arranged several payments to various accused to be distributed to officials of member associations as gratification for voting in his favour in the FIFA presidency election of 2011. A defendant participated in the scheme by organizing a meeting on May 10 and May 11, 2011, and by facilitating the $40,000 payment to each of the officials in attendance.

The goings-on span at least two generations of soccer officials who have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.  The indictment notes that the fraud has profoundly harmed a multitude of victims, from the youth leagues and developing countries that should benefit from the revenue generated by the commercial rights these organizations hold, to the fans at home and throughout the world whose support for the game makes those rights valuable.

“Today’s action makes clear that this Department of Justice intends to end any such corrupt practices, to root out misconduct, and to bring wrongdoers to justice – and we look forward to continuing to work with other countries in this effort.”

It is clear that the final word has not yet been pronounced in this sensational drama. “Let me be clear: this indictment is not the final chapter in our investigation,” Acting US Attorney Currie said in the indictment.

“IRS-CI will continue to investigate financial crimes and follow the money wherever it may lead around the world, leveling the playing field for those who obey the law,” he added.