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Latest bribery allegation once again calls Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid into question

The alleged payment was made to a Brazilian FIFA official from Barcelona's President with a strong Qatar connection.

(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
(AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

A lengthy report from the Sunday Times alleges that a former FIFA executive committee member representing the Qatari bid paid off senior football officials in order to help land the 2022 World Cup. This adds more fuel to the controversy surrounding the World Cup in Qatar, increasing the possibility that FIFA would re-vote to determine a new host. These purported bribery payments are merely the latest corruption allegations to surface. 

Previously, according to the UK’s Telegraph, an alleged £2 million bribery payment was made to the 10-year old daughter of a key official on FIFA’s executive committee in relation to Qatar’s World Cup bid in 2010.

The Telegraph suggests it has evidence that a savings account set up for the daughter of Ricardo Teixeira—the Brazilian representative serving on FIFA’s executive committee—received a £2 payment from Sandro Rosell in 2011.

Teixeira stepped down from the executive committee in 2012.

The Barcelona-Qatar Connection

Rosell, previously head of Nike Brazil, was appointed President of La Liga’s FC Barcelona in 2010. Shortly thereafter, FC Barcelona ended its long-term stance of refusing jersey naming sponsorship and entered into a record £125 million deal with the Qatar Foundation.

The timeline of events:

  • Qatar was awarded the 2020 World Cup bid on Dec. 2, 2010.
  • The Qatar-Barcelona record sponsorship deal was formed a week later on Dec. 10, 2010.
  • The alleged £2 million payment was made months later in 2011.

At the time, the Barcelona and Qatar Foundation deal was noted by senior club executives as a “remarkable milestone because it represents a record level of revenue for a football club.” The Qatar Foundation is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, the wife of the Emir who played a key role and was a public figurehead for Qatar’s successful World Cup bid.

Rosell resigned in January as president of Barcelona for allegedly misappropriating funds in a deal that brought over Brazilian soccer superstar Neymar through a $78 million deal without disclosing details of the agreement.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
(Credit: Wikipedia)

One of Many Teixeira-Rosell Dealings

Lawyers representing the Qatar bid for the World Cup said there was “no question” that any payment made to Teixeira was connected to the sponsorship of Barcelona football by the Qatar Foundation or Qatar Airways.

Sure, by that logic the payment appears harmless, but why would Teixeira be deserving of payments related to Barcelona’s sponsorship deal with Qatar if he had nothing to do with it?

What makes this transaction all the more questionable is the past history of the two gentlemen.

Teixeira and Rosell are no strangers.

In 1996, Teixeira (then head of the Brazilian Football Confederation) and Rosell (then head of Nike Brazil) agreed to a blockbuster $320 million, 10-year deal for Nike to sponsor the Brazilian national team.

Teixeira and Rosell have also been connected through the alleged siphoning of multi-million dollar commissions from the CBF under Teixeira’s tenure to offshore Cayman Islands accounts of companies linked to Rosell.

Controversial Qatar Bid

The Daily Telegraph newspaper in Britain alleged it had evidence that former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago received $2 million in payments from Kemco Group—a Qatari company owned by one-time Qatari FIFA executive member Mohamed bin Hammam.

While Teixeira likely will not be implicated given the absence of a smoking gun, there are enough dots to connect the state-backed Qatar Foundation to a deciding member of FIFA’s executive committee . . . one with a history of shady business practices and the propensity to accept a bribe.

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