13th December 2019

Investigation opened after Reports confirm World Cup bribes

France’s Parquet National Financier (PNF) has opened an investigation into the appointment of Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, reports Mediapart, after a FIFA decision alleged that three officials were paid bribes in order to vote for the Gulf State. In addition, a Report published by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has alleged that Russia bribed FIFA officials in order to secure the rights to the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup. 

Both tournament hosts were appointed on the same day, via a vote held at FIFA’s Zurich headquarters on 2 December 2010. It is understood that the PNF’s investigation will be led by a judge and will consider allegations of ‘passive and active corruption’ concerning the award of the 2022 World Cup hosting rights to Qatar. 

Qatar 2022

On 29 November, FIFA announced that it had sanctioned Ricardo Teixeira, a former member of the FIFA and South American football confederation (CONMEBOL) Executive Committees, with a life ban for bribery. The full Decision (PDF below) names three CONMEBOL officials as recipients of bribes in connection with the appointment of Qatar as host.

Detail from FIFA’s Teixeira ruling appears to confirm that the Qatar 2022 World Cup was bought…

FIFA found that Teixeira redirected a $1 million bribe in connection to the award of CONMEBOL tournaments to Julio Grondona, former Vice President of FIFA, as part of a payment for voting for Qatar as host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. ‘Based on your conversations with Julio Grondona, which CONMEBOL officials were to receive money for their votes in connection with the Qatar selection?’, witness ‘A’ from Company 2 is asked in the above decision. ‘Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolás Leoz and Julio Grondona himself’, reads the reply.

Company 2 confirmed to Company 4 that a bribe of $1 million each was paid to the three officials, reads the decision. If this is accurate, and previous reports suggest that it is, it means that all three CONMEBOL representatives featuring on the FIFA Executive Committee in December 2010 were bribed to vote for Qatar.

Russia 2018

A 400 plus page DoJ Report (PDF below) into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Crossfire Hurricane investigation was published this week. The Report was to investigated whether individuals associated with the Trump administration coordinated with Russia to interfere in the 2016 US Presidential election. However, it also alleges that the Kremlin bribed FIFA officials to vote for Russia as host of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Detail from the DoJ Report appears to confirm that the Kremlin was aware that Russia had bribed FIFA…

The decision mentions Christopher Steele, a former British Intelligence Officer with MI6 who ran its Russian desk between 2006 and 2009, when he co-founded Orbis Business Intelligence. ‘In July 2011, Steele provided a report that summarized an alleged conversation between then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in which, according to the report, Putin acknowledged that a Russian oligarch had bribed the President of FIFA so that Russia could win the right to host the World Cup tournament in 2018’, reads page 86 of the above Report. ‘Second, in 2012, Steele introduced the FBI to two British officials with information concerning Russia’s alleged efforts to bribe FIFA executives. Our review of Steele’s Delta file also revealed that Steele furnished the FBI with a report dated June 2015 that quoted a Kremlin official as having admitted that the Kremlin bribed FIFA executives in order to secure rights to host the 2018 World Cup.’

Detail from Richard McLaren’s IP Report…

In 2010, the President of FIFA was Joseph S. Blatter (Sepp Blatter). Vitaly Mutko, the former Russian Minister of Sport implicated in Russian State doping, was a member of the Executive Committee. He is now Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister. 

Connected

The above information is further evidence that bribes were paid to secure both the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cups. This is hardly surprising, as both decisions were taken on the same day. However given that FIFA wants to distance itself from the so-called ‘brown envelope’ culture that existed at ‘old’ FIFA, it is curious that despite such allegations, the ‘new’ FIFA appointed Qatar as host of the Club World Cup 2019 and 2020 in June this year.

The Russian State has denied improperly influencing the doping control process. The above evidence indicates it was prepared to improperly influence a voting process for one of sport’s flagship tournaments. It also suggests connections between the Kremlin, Russian oligarchs and the FIFA Executive Committee in making this happen. 

There is already evidence of Russian State involvement in a disinformation campaign designed to taint other nations with the indelible stain of doping. Those involved were apparently connected to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. After the manipulation of the doping control process in Russia was discovered, two apparently healthy former Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) executives died within two weeks of each other. They had discussed writing a book.

When Russian State agents were found to be behind ‘Fancy Bears’, The Sports Integrity Initiative wrote that corruption at FIFA and State involvement in manipulation of the doping control process were not connected. As the above evidence indicates, perhaps that assessment was wrong.

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