Fifa under more pressure over Qatar as terror claims emerge
Demands for action over claims that Fifa official was paid nearly £2m after World Cup vote
Pressure is growing on Fifa to re-run the race to host the 2022 World Cup in the wake of the latest allegations concerning payments to former Fifa vice president Jack Warner, and new accusations of the Gulf state's links to terrorism.
It has been claimed that around $2m (£1.2m) was paid to Warner and his family by a company with connections to disgraced Qatari football supremo Mohamed Bin Hammam, shortly after the controversial vote in December 2010.
The latest allegations, printed in the Daily Telegraph, have prompted yet more attacks on Fifa and its decision to hand the tournament to the Gulf state. Clive Efford, the shadow sports minister, told the Telegraph that Fifa should reopen the bidding process if corruption was proved. John Whittingdale, the chairman of the parliamentary culture, media and sport committee, said that the decision to choose Qatar lacked "credibility". Other MPs including former culture secretary Tessa Jowell also weighed in with criticism.
Damien Collins, another member of the CMS committee, told The Independent that Fifa's response to the Warner claims – a brusque "no comment" – was a "disgrace".
In an editorial, the paper said that the "steady drumbeat of allegations of corruption, and with it the growing sense that the decision could have been made for financial rather than sporting reasons" meant that "the option of re-running the bidding process should not be ruled out".
The latest claims have not come out of the blue, says The Guardian, and will only add to the pressure on Sepp Blatter and football's governing body. "Added to the scandalous toll of migrant workers dying in their hundreds to provide the infrastructure for Qatar's grand plans and the still-to-be-resolved questions around when the World Cup will actually be played given the searing summer heat, the likelihood of a series of new allegations surrounding the bidding process is a reminder that their problems may be only just beginning," warns the paper.
However, calls for Qatar to be stripped of the tournament are likely to fall on deaf ears says The Times. "Sadly, it will also take much more compelling evidence than that unearthed this week for Fifa even to begin to question the staging of the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar," it claims. Their attitude may be "deeply unsatisfactory but [it is] all too predictable".
But the knives are now definitely out for Qatar. Daily Mail columnist Martin Samuel ups the ante dramatically by saying that by picking Qatar for 2022, Fifa "may have got into bed with a bunch of terrorist sympathisers". He states that last year the US named a former Qatar Football Association president, Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, as a major financer of al-Qaeda.
He adds that current QFA president Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al Thani has links to Palestinian group Hamas, which runs Gaza but is classified as a terrorist group by many Western countries.
"Suddenly the corrupt former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner looks the least troubling of Qatar's social circle," he adds.