England ‘spied on rival World Cup bidders’
England, Russia and Qatar have been accused of breaking Fifa rules during the bidding process for the two World Cups – which saw Russia and Qatar win the bids.
A document compiled by a national newspaper, and published by Westminster’s Culture, Media and Sport select committee, accuses Russia and Qatar of engaging in vote-buying and vote-trading while England is alleged to have run an intelligence-gathering operation against rival nations.
All three countries have previously denied any wrongdoing.
According to claims made in a newspaper yesterday, allegations of wrongdoing were contained within a database compiled by England’s 2018 bidding team. The committee published the dossier yesterday, containing claims that during the bid’s two-year campaign, intelligence was flooding into its offices at London’s Wembley stadium.
Some of the information came from British embassies monitoring activities of voters and rival bidders, some was taken from conversations with voters and fixers, and some was from private investigation companies with close links to MI6.
The paper claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin played a major role in his country’s winning bid, even, it says, enlisting Fifa’s president Sepp Blatter to help lobby for votes.
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Another claim suggests the Russia bid had lobbied for the support of Michel Platini – the Uefa president and a Fifa voter – by giving him a painting believed to have been a Picasso.
It is alleged that Qatar’s dominance in the natural gas industry helped secure votes through bilateral trade deals.
The chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, John Whittingdale, admitted none of the allegations had been proven but said they gave the impression of Fifa being a “deeply corrupt organisation”.He said he wanted to now hear from from Football Association (FA) executives to ascertain if the “database” exists and, if so, for them to outline its contents.
Speaking yesterday, he said: “What it is alleged England have been doing is mild compared to allegations made against other nations but nevertheless it is obviously serious, it is a breach of the rules, and therefore we will want to know whether or not it is true and how the FA justify it.
“Obviously a lot of it is reports and hearsay. It isn’t necessarily hard evidence, it isn’t proven.But nonetheless, taken together with all the other evidence that has already been accumulated it does paint a picture of [Fifa as] a deeply corrupt organisation.”
The FA said in a statement: “The FA can confirm the England 2018 bid engaged with a number of parties around the world to provide background information on the progress of the bidding process within different countries. These were media and corporate affairs consultants engaged on a confidential basis to gather intelligence.
“The fact the bid team had taken advice on intelligence gathering was referenced to Mr Garcia [Michael Garcia conducted a two-year inquiry into alleged corruption within Fifa] as part of the investigative process.
“The FA reiterates that it has fully complied with all disclosure requests from Mr Garcia.”
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