Football: French magazine questions Fifa's awarding of 2022 World Cup to Qatar

PARIS (AFP) - France Football magazine has raised questions about world body Fifa's awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, alleging it was tainted by corruption and collusion involving top figures in the game.

The weekly publication said in its latest edition published on Tuesday that the awarding of football's most prestigious tournament had "a whiff of scandal that begs the only question worth asking: should the vote be declared null and void?"

To back up its claims, the magazine, which dubbed the affair "Qatargate", quoted what it said was an internal e-mail in which Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke allegedly said that the tiny Gulf state had "bought the 2022 World Cup".

Valcke subsequently claimed a misunderstanding and insisted that the tone of the e-mail was "light-hearted".

Key figures in making Qatar's case included the now-banned former Asian football chief Mohammed Hammam, Fifa vice-president Julio Grondona of Argentina and Ricardo Teixeira, who quit Brazil's football federation and Fifa over graft claims.

Fifa told AFP it had no comment to make on the subject.

But a spokesman pointed out that its ethical commission, headed by former US prosecutor Michael Garcia, said last Thursday that he was to conduct a "wide-ranging inquiry" into the awarding of the 2018 edition to Russia and 2022 to Qatar.

European football chief Michel Platini on Tuesday hit out at claims that Fifa's awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was tainted by corruption and collusion involving top figures in the game.

Platini said in a statement to AFP that "to believe that my choice went to Qatar 2022 in exchange for deals between the French state and Qatar is just pure speculation", denouncing it as a fabrication.

"I don't rule out taking anyone to court who questions my integrity in this vote," he added.

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