Qatar whistleblower retracts, says she wanted to hurt World Cup 2022 bid

The official wanted to avenge losing her job in the campaign and now insists she is sorry and not denying under pressure.

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LONDON — An official who alleged that Qatar paid bribes to three FIFA members to secure the World Cup in 2022 has retracted her claims, it was reported on Sunday.

Phaedra Al Majid, who worked as a press officer for Qatar 2022, told the BBC she wanted to avenge losing her job on the campaign, but now had decided to go public to admit that the allegations had been fabricated.

Al Majid has signed a legal affadavit retracting the allegations and insisted that she had not been put under any pressure by the Qataris to make her public denial.

"I was very upset after I left the bid and wanted to basically hurt the bid back," she said.

"My intentions were to make a few headlines, I never expected that my lies would be carried on. It just went too far. I never expected it to come to this point. There was never anything suspicious or any wrongdoing on Qatar's part.

"I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I have hurt reputations of three members of the FIFA executive committee , I have hurt their reputation, and more importantly I have hurt my colleagues on the Qatar bid."

Al Majid originally said African Football Confederation president Issa Hayatou, Ivory Coast FIFA member Jacques Anomua and Nigeria's suspended official Amos Adamu were paid to vote for Qatar.

The allegations were denied by all three men but were made public under parliamentary privilege in the United Kingdom when the Sunday Times submitted evidence from their investigation into FIFA in May.

The BBC, whose programme on the 2022 tournament will be aired on Monday, admitted that their staff only interviewed Al Majid after being put in touch with her by Qatar bid officials.

Meanwhile, the Guardian newspaper said it had spoken to Al Majid and interviewed the bid's chief executive, Hassan Al-Thawadi.

"He said Al Majid had been in contact with the bid wanting to retract her story, and facilitated our conversation with her. Both she and the bid insist they did not put pressure on her to issue her retraction, nor paid her or helped her in any way," said the newspaper on its website edition.