Date
15 December 2017
New allegations surrounding Qatar's winning bid for the 2022 World Cup centers around  the influence of Mohammed bin Hamman, the Gulf state's former FIFA vice president, on the bidding process. Photo: AFP
New allegations surrounding Qatar's winning bid for the 2022 World Cup centers around the influence of Mohammed bin Hamman, the Gulf state's former FIFA vice president, on the bidding process. Photo: AFP

Where there’s smoke: FIFA fighting fires over Qatar 2022

Did Qatar buy its way into the 2022 World Cup?

Three of the biggest World Cup sponsors want to know after claims the oil-rich Gulf emirate made secret payments to officials of football’s world governing body FIFA in exchange for the right to host the event.

The payments reportedly came from a US$5 million slush fund.

Pressure is building on football supremo Sepp Blatter to take action. After all Sony, Adidas and Visa make up half of FIFA sponsors. Last weekend, they released separate statements to voice their concerns, according to the Financial Times.

They were responding to new allegations, based on leaked documents, published by the Sunday Times about the influence of the Gulf state’s former FIFA vice president, Mohammed bin Hammam, on its bid team.

Adidas said the negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA is “neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners”.

Sony, whose World Cup sponsorship includes this summer’s tournament in Brazil, said it expects the allegations to be “investigated appropriately”.

And Visa wants FIFA to take “appropriate actions” and maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency.

Coca-Cola, another sponsor, said it is confident the allegations are being investigated thoroughly, the report said.

Michael Payne, who was the marketing director of the International Olympic Committee during its Salt Lake City corruption scandal, said the Qatar controversy has entered a new phase with the World Cup sponsors, which rarely speak out publicly about FIFA politics, weighing in.

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