Prosecutors in the United States have made direct allegations that the World Cup bids for both Russia and Qatar were corrupt, issuing an indictment to that effect.
The prosecutors allege that representatives working for the two host nations bribed FIFA executive committee members in exchange for crucial votes during the bidding process.
Qatar’s organizers, led by the nation’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), rejected the charges.
“They are part of a long-standing case, the subject of which is not the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process,” they stated.
“Despite years of false claims, evidence has never been produced to demonstrate that Qatar won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 unethically or by means that contravened FIFA’s strict bidding rules.
“The SC maintains that it strictly adhered to all rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process and any claim to the contrary is baseless and will be fiercely contested.”
FIFA said they were supportive of investigations into “alleged acts of criminal wrongdoing” and stated the organization had been given victim status in the criminal proceedings in the United States.
“The FIFA Ethics Committee has already imposed sanctions, including life bans, on football officials mentioned in this process,” said a FIFA spokesman.
“So far as FIFA is concerned, should any acts of criminal wrongdoing by football officials be established, the individuals in question should be subject to penal sanctions.
“As the respective criminal cases are ongoing we are not in a position to comment further for the time being.”
FIFA has previously said that media allegations of corruption will not affect Qatar’s hosting of the tournament, but the more formal nature of the indictments laid down in the US is likely to place more question marks over the hosting of the tournament, which for the first time ever, is set to be held in the winter, in November and December 2022.
Three FIFA executive committee members, Brazil’s Ricardo Texeira, Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz and a third, unnamed, member, are alleged to have taken bribes in exchange for votes for Qatar.
“Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and co-conspirator #1 were offered and received bribe payments in exchange for their votes in favour of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup,” the indictment read.
The US Department of Justice has also alleged that former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner received $5 million via a number of shell companies in exchange for his vote for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup.
Warner, who is currently fighting extradition from his home in Trinidad & Tobago, has denied wrongdoing as part of the long-running investigation.
CEO for Russia’s 2018 World Cup organizing committee, Alexei Sorokin, told Interfax: “This is only the opinion of lawyers. We have repeatedly said that our bid was transparent.
“At the time we answered all questions, including from the investigation branch of FIFA and from the media, we handed over all needed documents. We have nothing to add to this and we will not respond to attempts to cast a shadow on our bid.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We read the media reports. We don’t understand what they refer to.
“Russia received the right to host the World Cup completely legally. It is in no way linked to any bribes. We reject this. And Russia hosted the best soccer World Cup in history, which we are proud of.”