Whistleblower makes claims over Qatari African payments
PARIS - The Qatari team for the controversial winning bid to host the 2022 World Cup paid several million dollars in bribes to senior African football figures, claims former communications director Phaedra Almajid.
Almajid, who gave evidence under condition of anonymity to the FIFA inquiry into the corruption allegations surrounding the 2018 and 2022 bid races led by American former federal prosecutor Michael Garcia only to be controversially outed by FIFA's ethics chief Hans-Joachim Eckert, told weekly football magazine France Football she had been present when the money was handed over.
She claims the meeting took place in the suite of a hotel in the Angolan capital Luanda in January 2010 during the African Football Confederation (CAF) congress ahead of the continental football showpiece the Africa Cup of Nations.
She recounted to France Football that somebody in the room said "how delighted they (the Qataris) were that a high ranking African football director was present in the room and they wished to benefit his federation to the tune of a million dollars (810,000 euros)."
"This man (the African football director) replied without looking at the Qatari: 'Ah, a million dollars... Why not a million-and-a-half dollars'," said Almajid, who lost her job in 2010.
"And the Qatari, he said he hoped he could count on his support. The fellow assured him that was the case. And that was that," said Almajid.
She said the same scene occurred with two other highly-placed African football personalities -- although she did not identify any of them.
Almajid, who said last month she will have to spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder and had been offered protection by the FBI after threats to her and her children, was scathing over Eckert identifying her in his summary of Garcia's report, which also ruled out a revote for either the 2018 -- to be hosted by Russia -- or the 2022 finals.
Controversy has stalked the 2022 World Cup ever since Qatar stunned their rivals in winning the right to host the finals.
Even the final report by former federal prosecutor Garcia is shrouded in doubt as the American said FIFA had misrepresented his findings.
Eckert's summary of Garcia's 18-month investigation cleared Russia and Qatar to stage the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively and ruled out a re-vote for the tournaments despite widespread allegations of wrongdoing.
But in an extraordinary development, Garcia said he would appeal against the findings in Eckert's summary as they contained "numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions" detailed in his report -- which has not been made public.
FIFA have also lodged a criminal complaint with Swiss authorities over "possible misconduct" by individuals connected to the bids.