[QATAR 2022]The most amazing aspect of the Sunday Times' investigation into the Qatar 2022 bribery scandal is the enormity of the treasure trove. It says it was leaked "hundreds of millions of secret documents" in Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam's systematic campaign to win support for Qatar 2022 in Africa to the tune of more than $5 million from slush funds.
It didn't detail a smoking gun tying the Qatari bid committee directly to the four Africans on the FIFA executive committee but uncovered 10 slush funds used to buy up support within African soccer. The magnitude of the corruption will be another blow to FIFA and the international view of it being a deeply flawed institution.
The Sunday Times, whose articles are behind a pay wall, reported that a "senior figure" inside FIFA decided to "blow the whistle" on Qatar 2022 and leaked it the documents, many of them it posted. They include an email from George Weah, the only African international to win the Ballon d'Or, to bin Hammam's assistant, providing his banking account information -- a Bank of America account in Pembroke Pines, Fla.: “I write because after meeting with the President [bin Hammam], he told me to pass on my contact and bank details information to you urgently.”
Sunday Times Report (subscription required): Plot to buy the World Cup
The evidence includes emails, faxes, phone records, flight logs, bank transfer slips and other documents and accounts all involving bin Hammam, the Qatari who was the president of the Asian Football Confederation and member of the FIFA executive committee at the time of the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup in December 2010.
Bin Hammam was the next year kicked out of FIFA in a bribery scandal involving then-Concacaf president Jack Warner as he sought to win support in the Caribbean for his bid to unseat FIFA president Sepp Blatter. A later investigation into bin Hammam's affairs at the Asian Football Confederation revealed all sorts of improprieties.
Much of that investigation is confirmed in the Sunday Times investigation as it determined bin Hammam used AFC accounts to access cash and his private construction company, Kemco, to funnel money to African officials seeking handouts.
Bin Hammam's goal was to gain a groundswell of support in Africa for the Qatar 2022 campaign so that the four executive committee members would have no choice but to support Qatar 2022. Before the vote, Amos Adamu of Nigeria was suspended after being caught in a Sunday Times sting operation. The other three Africans were Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, Egyptian Hany Abu Rida and Ivorian Jacques Anouma.
The Sunday Times said the Qatari bid committee was aware of the efforts to court African delegations on trips to Doha though it was not clear how much it knew about payments beyond travel expenses.
Qatar won the vote of the FIFA executive committee by 14-8. It has pushed ahead with its plans for the 2022 World Cup though FIFA has yet to decide when to hold the tournament -- summer or winter.
Despite suggestions of a re-vote on the 2022 host, few believe it will take place without compelling evidence that the Qatar 2022 bid committee was directly involved in payoffs to members of the executive committee. FIFA investigator Michael Garcia is scheduled to meet with Qatar 2022 bid committee officials this week. It is not clear whether that meeting will go ahead in light of the new revelations.