DOHA: Qatar has become the latest country to become embroiled in the international sporting corruption scandal after it was accused of bribing FIFA executives to help secure vital World Cup votes.
Qatar is bidding to host the football World Cup in 2022, but executives from rival bidding countries yesterday urged football’s authorities to reject its bid, claiming it had broken FIFA regulations.
“We strongly feel that Qatar’s gifts to the members of the voting committee have crossed the boundaries of acceptability and are tantamount to bribery,” Drew Peacock of the Australia World Cup 2022 committee told The Pan-Arabia Enquirer yesterday.
In a document also signed by the World Cup 2022 bidding teams of USA, South Korea and Japan, Peacock pointed to the 24 luxury mansions that were last week presented to FIFA president Sepp Blater and 23 other members of the FIFA Executive Committee, the main decision-making body of the organisation.
The mansions, each said to be worth around $100 million, are set on their own individual private island and come complete with a host of luxurious additions. On Sepp Blater Island, for example, the ageing Swiss millionaire will be able to enjoy his own private gold-plated infinity pool, 18-hole golf course and 75-hectare safari park. The islands have been arranged so that when read from space they spell out ‘QATAR FOR WORLD CUP 2022’.
But Qatari World Cup officials have slammed the accusations.
“This is ridiculous,” said Hassan bin Wajani of the Qatar Sporting Foundation. “These luxurious 7-star mansions are nothing more than a donation from the generous people of Qatar to the hard-working members of the FIFA Executive Committee, providing them with a place to take their families, to relax after exhausting World Cup decision meetings and, of course, to watch all the games of the incredible upcoming Qatar 2022 World Cup, unless we don’t get it in which case we’ll pull them all down.”