After whistleblower Phaedra Almajid retracted her accusations of corruption in Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid, FIFA has decided to not even pursue any investigation into whether her claims were true, saying, “When only allegations are made and no evidence is given, FIFA always stands firmly by its members.”
Almajid, a former communications officer with the Qatar bid, claims the Ivory Coast’s Jacques Anouma, Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou and Nigeria’s Amos Adamu were all offered $1.5 millions in exchange for voting for Qatar. However, on July 1, she retracted her statement and said she first brought forth these allegations because she was hurt by how she was “placed under pressure . . . for failing to control the international media reaction to Qatar’s bid” and signed an affidavit in Washington, D.C., with her former boss present.
Before any allegations were made public, though, Almajid had asked FIFA for witness protection and that the accusations not be made public. These requests were denied her. Qatar officials have declined to comment, but apparently “they facilitated a conversation with her, then on Saturday evening she identified herself on a website specifically created for her retraction as Phaedra Almajid, formerly the international media specialist for the bid between May 2009 and March 2010. She explained she had been “furious” when the bid decided to move her from her job, which she loved, and decided to “hurt” the bid by fabricating the bribes story.”
Qatar’s World Cup chief, Hassan Al-Thawadi, accuses others of anti-Arab bigotry,
“What is not disputed, however, was that in the latter stages Bin Hammam did lobby his fellow executive committee members to vote for Qatar. It would have been impossible for the bid to succeed without his influence. And there is the other scenario which some believe is the most likely, that influence was peddled above the bid team’s head, by higher authorities in Qatar, a country wielding huge wealth and power around the world.”
“People say this, that there was influence, that the Emir of Qatar became involved,” responds Thawadi, enraged. “We are not a banana republic. All governments supported all bids, but we are asked if ours wielded influence. Why are you asking me that: because we are Arabs?”
With evidence of corruption against Mohammed Bin Hammam, who was part of the Qatar bid and once-challenger to Sepp Blatter in the recent elections, the decision not to investigate make no sense at all. One wonders if the truth will ever come out.