Qatar has been hit with fresh allegations of corruption over its controversial 2022 World Cup bid, as a new book claims its state TV company beIN Sports agreed a secret $100 million deal with Fifa if they won the vote.
The claims are made in a soon-to-be-released book, written by a whistleblower from inside Australia’s failed 2022 bid, Bonita Mersiades, who spent years investigating the case and interviewed former Fifa president Sepp Blatter as part of her research.
An advance summary of the book, released by The Mail on Sunday, also alleges that Mr Blatter knew Qatar would win the vote, beating the US, which had been the favourite. So sure was he of the outcome that he phoned then-president Barack Obama days before the vote to tell him the US would lose, it is claimed.
In an excerpt from the book, Mr Blatter says that Michel Platini, then-Uefa president, told him that he and several others on the 22-man voting Executive Committee (ExCo) were going to back Qatar.
However, after Qatar won, Mr Blatter was allegedly dismayed and wanted it stripped of the tournament.
He is understood to have tried twice to retract Qatar’s right to host the event, but on both occasions, he agreed to drop his complaints in exchange for the Emir’s guarantee that Mohamed bin Hammam, Qatar’s ExCo member, would not oppose him in the 2011 Fifa presidency election.
The details of the secret deal that Mr Blatter made with broadcaster Al Jazeera, parent company of the beIN Sports channels, were also revealed in the book.
In the months before the December 2010 vote – and with Fifa executives worried about potentially low revenues from a Qatar win – the broadcaster agreed to pay Fifa $100 million if the country was successful in the vote.
According to the book, the deal was agreed with the involvement of Jerome Valcke, who was at the time secretary general of Fifa but subsequently banned for nine years from football for corruption.
The book says: “Valcke's concerns about revenue growth in relation to Qatar were assuaged when negotiations commenced in October 2010 for a bonus payment of $100m to Fifa from Al Jazeera if Qatar won 2022. There was no way he could turn it down. According to former Fifa staff, Valcke's share was generally five per cent for negotiating the deal.”
When Ms Mersiades asked Mr Blatter about the deal, he is alleged to have shrugged and simply said: “Sponsors and broadcasters pay bonuses all the time. That is not unusual.”
When asked about the alleged payment by The Mail on Sunday, beIN Sports did not deny it but instead said that such a payment is "standard market practice" and "often imposed upon broadcasters by sports federations and sports rights holders".
It added: “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 relevant media agreements were standalone from any bid, and were in no way intended to influence the outcome of the vote.”
Other allegations made by the book include claims of bribery against German footballing hero and former Fifa ExCo member Franz Beckenbauer during the Australian bid.
The book is due to be launched on Wednesday.