FIFA bribe allegations raise more questions over Qatar World Cup [DailyTimes] 08 Apr, 2020

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar has become the focus of fresh FIFA corruption allegations after the release of a new U.S. Department of Justice indictment which says bribes were paid to football officials to secure their votes for hosting rights. Suspicion and rumours have long surrounded both the 2010 vote by FIFA’s executive to hand the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. But on Monday, for the first time, prosecutors set direct, formal allegations down in print. According to the prosecutors, representatives working for Russia and Qatar bribed FIFA executive committee officials to swing votes in the crucial decision of world football’s governing body.Warner allegations: The DOJ also alleges that then FIFA vice-president Jack Warner was paid $5 million (£4.05 million) through various shell companies to vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup. Warner has been accused of a number of crimes in the long-running U.S probe and is fighting extradition from his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago. Warner, who was not immediately reachable for comment, has always denied any wrongdoing. Alexei Sorokin, CEO of the local organising committee for Russia’s 2018 World Cup, told the Interfax news agency: “This is only the opinion of lawyers. We have repeatedly said that our bid was transparent.“At the time we answered all questions, including from the investigation branch of FIFA and from the media, we handed over all needed documents. We have nothing to add to this and we will not respond to attempts to cast a shadow on our bid.” Asked if the Kremlin was aware of the U.S. indictment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We read the media reports. We don’t understand what they refer to. “Russia received the right to host the World Cup completely legally. It is in no way linked to any bribes. We reject this. And Russia hosted the best soccer World Cup in history, which we are proud of.” The Qatar World Cup organizers have been fending off allegations of corruption ever since the tiny Gulf state was awarded the 2022 tournament.In 2014, FIFA, then under the control of former President Sepp Blatter, cleared Russia and Qatar of wrongdoing in their bids to host the World Cup after an investigation. Blatter was banned from football by FIFA along with scores of other officials following internal ethics investigations, promoted by the arrests of seven FIFA officials on U.S corruption charges in Zurich in May 2015.

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