Report: Former FIFA exec paid $5 million to support Qatar WC bid

Mohamed Bin Hammam with FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Qatar. (Getty Images)

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A former FIFA executive was accused of bribing various senior football officials with $5 million in exchange for their support for Qatar’s successful World Cup bid in 2022, The Sunday Times reported.

The outlet reportedly obtained a huge cache of leaked e-mails, depicting how Mohamed Bin Hammam, Qatar’s former top football official, lobbied other senior officials to support Qatar’s bid when the vote was up in 2010. Bin Hammam reportedly paid off numerous officials from Africa as well as Jack Warner, FIFA’s former vice president.

The curious choice to award Qatar the World Cup has drawn widespread criticism, both from human rights groups as well as European domestic soccer leagues. A scathing report revealed that up to 4,000 immigrant construction workers could die while building the infrastructure to host the World Cup, while Europe’s top leagues have noted that a winter World Cup (to avoid Qatar’s heat) would interfere with broadcast schedules.

The entire vote is under investigation by an independent ethics committee.

Bin Hammam, who was removed from his official post following a corruption-marred bid to become FIFA’s president in 2011, is alleged to have exploited his position to land Qatar the bid.

According to The Sunday Times, Bin Hammam had 10 slush funds through his company, which he used to pay up to $200,000 to dozens of African football associations, who in turn influenced how Africa’s four top FIFA officials would vote. He also reportedly handed out hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash at various gatherings.

Regarding former FIFA VP Jack Warner, Bin Hammam was accused of paying him more than $1.6 million in order to garner his support. Warner eventually resigned in 2011 to avoid an investigation connected to Bin Hammam's failed attempt to become FIFA president. 

The timing couldn’t be less ideal for FIFA as it prepares to host the World Cup in Brazil – a political hotbed in and of itself.

As if the Qatar news wasn’t dubious enough, a New York Times report on Sunday revealed that at least five pre-2010 World Cup friendlies were rigged due to match-fixing.

The numerous allegations have already cast a shadow over the World Cup, which begins in less than two weeks.  

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