GENEVA (AP) — Organizers of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have denied fresh allegations of wrongdoing after a British newspaper report questioned the integrity of choosing the emirate as tournament host.
The Sunday Times said a "senior FIFA insider" had provided "hundreds of millions of emails, accounts and other documents" detailing payments totaling $5 million that Qatari official Mohamed bin Hammam allegedly gave football officials to build support for the bid.
Bin Hammam was a member of FIFA's executive committee for 16 years and key power broker until being expelled in 2012 for financial corruption during his time as Asian Football Confederation president.
The Qatar 2022 organizing committee's statement on Sunday stressed that Bin Hammam, a Qatari, "played no official or unofficial role in the bid committee."
However, most FIFA executive committee voters in December 2010 were bin Hammam's longtime colleagues. Among them, Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil, Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay and FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago have since resigned while under investigation for corruption.
"The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid," the Qatari statement said, adding "we vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar's bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter."
The Sunday Times alleged that bin Hammam paid for cash gifts, hospitality and legal fees for some FIFA colleagues, including Warner, and dozens of African football leaders.
FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia has received the new evidence to help his investigation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests, the newspaper reported.
Garcia was scheduled to meet with Qatari bid officials on Monday in Oman.
"We are cooperating fully with Mr. Garcia's on-going investigation and remain totally confident that any objective enquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly," the Qatari statement said.
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