Article
Qatar World Cup Allegations - Caught Vote Swapping
1:10 PM Sat 20th Jun, 2015 - Sweeper
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Qatar's hopes of avoiding being stripped of the 2022 World Cup have suffered another major blow after a former FIFA executive admitted engaging in an illicit vote-swapping pact that handed them the tournament.

The Gulf State's shock victory in the discredited 2010 ballot prompted persistent rumours of vote-trading with the Spain-Portugal bid for the 2018 event - but a FIFA investigation found "no conclusive evidence" that it had taken place.

Now, one of the men who voted for Qatar has corroborated these claims by revealing he and at least two other executives agreed a deal that constituted a clear breach of bidding rules.

After four rounds of voting, Qatar beat the United States by 14 votes to eight, having secured the support of Brazil's Ricardo Teixeira, Spain's Angel Maria Villar Llona and Argentina's Julio Grondona.

Had the three men voted the other way, it would have been an 11-11 tie, with president Sepp Blatter holding the casting vote.

He is believed to have voted for the US, but even if he did not, it is likely South America would have acted as a bloc, which would have meant the vote of Paraguay's Nicolas Leoz also switching to the Americans.

Teixeira told Brazilian media: "Spain needed votes. They had the three from South America, their own and maybe one more from Europe. But it wasn't enough. So we had a meeting. Me, Villar and Grondona got some votes from Asia thanks to Qatar. And what was the deal? Qatar would vote for us for 2018 and would, in exchange, receive our support for 2022."

Blatter had previously confirmed "a bundle" of votes were traded between Spain-Portugal and Qatar but denied it had benefited either side, despite the latter's victory.

Teixeira is unlikely to have been interviewed by FIFA's ethics committee during its investigation into the award of the next two World Cups because he was no longer a football official and was also in hiding.

Villar Llona is already under investigation over his refusal to co-operate with the probe, while it is understood Grondona was also a far from willing witness prior to his death last year.

FIFA's investigation did find evidence that the 2010 ballot had been compromised and that there had been "indications" of "limited" vote-trading. But a lack of corroborating evidence led chief judge Hans-Joachim Eckert to declare that it had not been enough to warrant rerunning the contest.

FIFA's chief investigator Cornel Borbely confirmed this week he stood ready to extend his probe and Teixeira's explosive testimony would appear to be grounds for doing so.

Switzerland's attorney general could also examine it as part of his criminal inquiry into the award of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Both investigations may even look into claims that police in Brazil had unearthed evidence of payments made by Qatari construction firms into a secret bank account of Teixeira. But he insisted he got "absolutely nothing" in return for voting for Qatar and branded suggestions he was involved in impropriety as "preposterous".

Those involved in Qatar's bid team did not respond to requests for comment on Friday night but have always denied any wrongdoing.

From The Telegraph.
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