November 18 -The bidding process for the 2022 World Cup burst into fresh controversy today after allegations by the Sunday Times newspaper that Qatar officials considered offering $1 million (£630,000/€785,000) to the son of Amos Adamu, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee that handed the tournament to the tiny Gulf state.
But the Sunday Times, which published the original evidence in late 2010 that led to the suspensions of almost a third of FIFA's top brass - including Amos Adamu - claims it now has a new file that has been sent to FIFA who, in turn, has passed the information to Michael Garcia, appointed earlier this year as one of two independent chairmen of FIFA's revamped Ethics Committee.
According to the newspaper, Samson Adamu was invited to sponsor a high-profile "African Legends" gala dinner during the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.
The report quotes Qatar 2022 officials as having confirmed that discussions took place but insisting that they "later backed out of the deal after considering the 'relevant FIFA rules'".
"It will be for Michael Garcia to analyse the documents and decide on any potential next steps," said a spokesman.
FIFA's decision to hold the 2018 and 2022 World Cup ballots at the same time was an unmitigated disaster and was partly responsible for the two-year reform process, initiated by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, that is expected to be approved at the FIFA Congress in May next year.
Even before the Sunday Times revelations, Theo Zwanziger, the German member of the FIFA Executive Committee, suggested that Garcia examine issues arising from the 2018 and 2022 World Cup vote as part of any fresh investigation into the joint ballots.
Qatar saw off competition from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan to win the right to stage the 2022 World Cup but FIFA have already decided that future hosts will be selected by the organisation's full 209 nation membership rather than by an elite few.
World Cup bidders are banned from offering any incentives to voting FIFA members or their relatives.
But in a strongly worded statement released to media organisations, including insidethegames, Qatar's 2022 supreme committee categorically denied they had done anything wrong, accusing the Sunday Times of being "malicious and reckless".
"We refute absolutely the allegations," a statement said.
"The article is presented in a manner that suggests an 'offer' was made to a certain individual by the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee.
"The truth is that our Bid Committee, after careful consideration, opted not to sign any agreement with the individual concerned and had no part whatsoever in the 'African Legends Dinner' event, financially or otherwise.
"It is correct that such a project was the subject of discussions, that preliminary communications were exchanged and that a draft agreement came into existence.
"However, upon due consideration being given to all the circumstances of this particular case – and especially to the relevant FIFA rules relating to the obligations of bid committees – a decision was taken by the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee NOT to pursue any involvement in the African Legends Dinner.
"No agreement was signed or otherwise concluded and absolutely no payments of any kind were made.
"No member of the Bid Committee attended the aforementioned dinner.
"All of the above was made unequivocally clear in writing to the Sunday Times before publication.
"The way that the Sunday Times has acted today is both malicious and reckless in the extreme.
"We have maintained close contact with FIFA on this matter and are confident that any documents received by FIFA from the Sunday Times will merely highlight the truth, as outlined above.
"The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee operated to the highest standards of integrity during the bidding process for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cups, strictly adhering to all FIFA rules and regulations for bidding nations."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]