The allegations are likely to lead to further suspicion as to whether Qatar played fair when it bid to host the World Cup
Fifa should freeze payments from al-Jazeera, Damian Collins said. Photo Credit : Walter Bieri | EPA
Fifa is facing calls to launch an urgent investigation into a secret $100m TV deal offered by Qatar’s state-run broadcaster al-Jazeera three weeks before it awarded the 2022 World Cup to the country.
The allegations were first made in a book, Whatever It Takes the Inside Story of the Fifa Way, by a whistleblower from inside Australia’s failed 2022 bid, Bonita Mersiades, in January 2018. However, the Sunday Times said it had also seen documents showing executives from al-Jazeera had signed a TV contract that included an unprecedented success fee of $100m which would be paid to Fifa only if Qatar won the World Cup ballot in 2010.
The documents allegedly state : “In the event that the 2022 competition is awarded to the state of Qatar, al-Jazeera shall, in addition to the … rights fee, pay to Fifa into the designated account the monetary amount of $100m.”
Damian Collins, the chairman of the digital, culture, media and sport committee, said Fifa should freeze the payments from al-Jazeera and launch an investigation into the apparent contract that “appears to be in clear breach of the rules”.
The Sunday Times said it also had seen a copy of a second secret television rights contract for a further $480m that was offered by Qatar three years later which it said was now part of a bribery inquiry by Swiss police.
The allegations are likely to lead to further suspicion as to whether Qatar played fair when it bid to host the World Cup.
Mersiades’s book claims that in the months before the vote in December 2010 Fifa executives were privately worried that a Qatar win would leave a financial shortfall for the governing body in 2022. However, al-Jazeera which is now beIN Sports agreed the secret deal to pay $100m if Qatar won the vote.
The bonus was agreed, the book alleges, with the involvement and knowledge of Jérôme Valcke, secretary general of Fifa at the time but later banned for nine years from football for corruption.
In an email response to questions from the Sunday Times on Friday, Fifa wrote that “allegations linked to the Fifa World Cup 2022 bid have already been extensively commented by Fifa, who in June 2017 published the Garcia report in full on Fifa.com.
“Furthermore, please note that Fifa lodged a criminal complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, which is still pending. Fifa is and will continue to cooperate with the authorities.”
When asked about the payment by the Mail on Sunday in January, a beIN Sports spokesperson characterised the bonus as “production contributions” which were “standard market practice and are often imposed upon broadcasters by sports federations and sports rights holders”.
“There is clearly a significant uplift in interest and additional revenues to a broadcaster and significant additional local production costs to a rights holder when a major sports event is awarded in a broadcaster’s domestic market,” the spokesperson added. “The relevant media agreements were stand alone from any bid, and were in no way intended to influence the outcome of the vote.”
This article originally appeared on : The Guardian