Football: $2.7m paid to Fifa official's kid

The logo of football's international governing body Fifa is seen on its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
The logo of football's international governing body Fifa is seen on its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.PHOTO: REUTERS

Fresh focus on Qatar as German newspaper says it has copy of Garcia corruption report

BERLIN • Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup Finals is set to come under renewed scrutiny after it emerged that a sum of US$2 million (S$2.7 million) was sent to the 10-year-old daughter of a Fifa official prior to the country being awarded the rights.

The German daily Bild was yesterday set to publish details of American independent investigator Michael Garcia's report into alleged bribery and corruption during the bidding for the hosting of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Finals. But in an extract of the article released on Monday evening, the tabloid claims to have got hold of the report of more than 400 pages which has never been properly published by world football's governing body.

According to Bild, in the report Garcia reveals that "a former executive committee member congratulated members of the Qatari federation and thanked them by mail for a transfer of several hundred thousand euros" just after Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament.

"Two million dollars from an unknown source arrived in the savings account of the 10-year-old daughter of a Fifa member," added Bild.

The newspaper added that "three executive members of Fifa with the right to vote went to a party in Rio de Janeiro in a private jet belonging to the Qatari federation before the vote to decide who would host the competition".

The Aspire Academy in Qatar, one of the biggest sports academies in the world, was also "implicated in a decisive manner in the manipulation of Fifa members who had the right to vote," the paper added.

Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup in late 2010 and the result of the vote has been the source of enormous controversy ever since. Following Garcia's investigation, the adjudicatory chamber of Fifa's ethics committee noted that there had been instances of some suspicious behaviour during the bidding process but not enough to call into question the decision to give Qatar the 2022 Finals or Russia the 2018 tournament.

Garcia resigned as head of Fifa's investigatory body in December 2014, in protest at what he described as the world football's governing body's "incomplete and erroneous" summary of his report.

According to Bild, Garcia's findings in the summary of his report were watered down by Fifa ethics judge Joachim Eckert. In allegations that the Qatari bid used Aspire to "curry favour with executive committee members", Garcia wrote "those actions served to undermine the integrity of the bidding process". But Eckert described this as "potentially problematic facts and circumstances" which "were, all in all, not suited to compromise the integrity of the Fifa World Cup 2018 and 2022 bidding process as a whole".

Fifa yesterday said that it decided to publish the Garcia report after it was "illegally leaked" to a German newspaper, placing a link to the report on its website.

"For the sake of transparency, Fifa welcomes the news that this report has now been finally published," it added.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline '$2.7m paid to FIFA official's kid'. Print Edition | Subscribe