Leaked documents have revealed the state of Qatar made a $400m offer to FIFA three weeks before world football’s governing body controversially decided that they would host the 2022 World Cup.
An exclusive investigation from The Sunday Times unearthed files that showed high-ranking officials from the Qatari state-run broadcaster Al Jazeera signed a television deal making the mega-money offer.
The TV company agreed to pay fee of $100m into a designated FIFA account providing Qatar were successful in the World Cup ballot in 2010.
Details of the unprecedented offer are set out in documents that have been leaked to the Sunday Times.
The offer represented a conflict of interests for FIFA and was also a flagrant violation of its own rules as the TV company Al Jazeera was owned by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
FIFA’s rules state that no bidding countries can offer financial benefits to the governing body in connection to the vote.
However, Sepp Blatter, then FIFA president at the time, and his secretary general Jerome Valcke, completed the deal by signing it just a week after Qatar had won the right to host the 2022 tournament.
On Saturday night, the chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, Damian Collins told the Sunday Times that FIFA must freeze the Al Jazeera payments and launch an investigation into the contract that ‘appears to be in clear breach of the rules’.
The decision to take the World Cup to the tiny state of Qatar, who has a population of just 2.6m and is the first country from the Middle East to host the tournament, was met with widespread opposition.
There were immediate concerns whether Qatar were capable of hosting such an event with claims they did not have the infrastructure nor football traditions to hold the world’s biggest sporting competition.
There were also worries the temperature in Qatar would be too high to play competitive football – the decision was only made in 2018 that the tournament will now take place over November and December.
The Sunday Times have also revealed that a second TV rights contract worth $480m was offered to FIFA by beIN Media, the Al Jazeera’s spin-off, three years after they won the bid amid Qatar’s fears they would be stripped of hosting the World Cup.
It means that FIFA were directly offered close to $1bn in total by the Qatari state.
A spokesman for beIN said the award of the FIFA World Cup television rights had been ‘investigated extensively and no wrongdoing has been found concerning our involvement’.
An investigation into corruption surrounding the 2010 vote cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing.
FIFA have refused to comment on these latest allegations.