Doha: International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has dismissed as baseless allegations by the Sunday Times newspaper that it had called for investigation led by FIFA’s Chief Investigator Michael J Garcia into the World Cup 2022 bids.
The British daily has falsely reported that Interpol had called for a criminal inquiry as no such call was made, the organisation said.
Interpol said it had said clearly on several occasions that it supports FIFA inquiries headed by Garcia, a former US prosecutor and that it believes allegations of criminal corruption should be thoroughly investigated wherever they occur.
Interpol’s standpoint was again underlined by Secretary-General Ronald K Noble during an interview with CNN’s Richard Quest on June 13. Noble emphasised that Garcia is an experienced, thorough and expert investigator and his findings and recommendations should be accepted and implemented by FIFA.
Garcia has seen most of the evidence published by British newspapers alleging that Mohamed bin Hammam bought influence for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid.
“The vast majority of that material has been available to us for some time,” Garcia told the FIFA Congress of 209 member countries last Wednesday.
In a statement on Sunday, the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee said Bin Hammam had no association with it and denied any suggestion of wrongdoing. The panel said it was co-operating with investigation led by Garcia.
“The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” the statement said.
“With regard to latest allegations by Sunday Times, we say again that Bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in the committee. As was the case with every other member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, our bid team had to convince Bin Hammam of the merits of our bid.
“We are cooperating fully with Garcia’s investigation and remain confident that any objective enquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly.
“Following today’s newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrong-doing. We will take whatever steps necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking into the matter. The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup,” the statement said.
On its website, the Interpol referred to Noble as saying during a TV interview that Garcia is an accurate and experienced investigator and his conclusions and recommendations should be accepted and implemented by FIFA.
Qatari organisers have “vehemently” denied accusations their successful bid was corrupt.
In a report spread over its first 11 pages, Sunday Times claimed it had obtained millions of documents which show former FIFA executive committee member Bin Hammam made payments of around $5m to football officials in return for votes for Qatar.