A week ago, the paper claimed bin Hammam – who was banned from soccer for life in 2012 for his role in another scandal – made $5 million in direct payments to secure support from African soccer officials for Qatar’s bid.
In a statement, Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee reaffirmed its view that the country “won the bid on its merits.” Qatar previously denied bin Hammam had any official role in supporting its bid and acted independently. Bin Hammam has not responded to the latest accusations.
Reacting to the allegations, four of the top six sponsors that together contribute $180 million per year to FIFA’s revenues released statements this weekend urging FIFA to take action.
“The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners,” Adidas, FIFA’s oldest partner, said in a statement.
Sony, which is sponsoring this summer’s tournament in Brazil, said: “As a FIFA partner, we expect these allegations to be investigated appropriately.”
Visa said it expected FIFA to take “appropriate actions,” adding that it expects its partners “maintain strong ethical standards and operate with transparency.”
Coca-Cola, another longtime corporate sponsor, said: “Anything that detracts from the mission and ideals of the FIFA World Cup is a concern to us, but we are confident FIFA is taking these allegations very seriously and is investigating them thoroughly through the investigatory chamber of the FIFA ethics committee.”
What if any impact the corporate statements will have remains to be seen.
Michael Garcia, a former U.S. attorney appointed by FIFA as its ethics investigator, is set to conclude his investigation on Monday. He is barred from sharing investigative details before he submits his report in six weeks. However, the scandal will certainly come up when FIFA holds its annual congress in Sao Paolo on Wednesday, the day before the 2014 games kick off.
Garcia is aware of much of the material published over the weekend and is open to considering new evidence, the Times reported, citing FIFA insiders.
While the leaked documents appear to show bin Hammam was working to secure support for Qatar’s bid, it’s not clear he broke any FIFA rules.
“FIFA executive committee members were not subject to the same restrictions placed on bid officials and all the bidding nations used their heads of state and senior government figures to try and win influence and votes,” the BBC explained. “England’s failed bid for the 2018 tournament used Prince William, the president of the FA, and Prime Minister David Cameron throughout the latter stages of their campaign. It is also part and parcel of big sporting bids for countries to use them to try and broker big trade deals.”
However, even if bin Hammam didn’t break any rules, he may have run afoul of a “catch-all” provision in FIFA’s code of ethics that could be used to justify a re-vote, the Independent reported.