Russia and Qatar have refuted allegations of bribery on Tuesday after American prosecutors accused them of paying millions in bribes to buy the hosting rights of rights 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
Documents released by the US Justice Department show that FIFA officials were paid bribes to vote in favour of Russia and Qatar while awarding the rights.
Qatar has strongly denied the allegations in the court papers while Russia said illegally won the rights to host the 2018 edition where France was the winner.
The US allegations are linked to corruption network of corruption scandals from 2015 that left FIFA in turmoil including the sacking of then President Sepp Blatter.
Since then US government has linked up to 45 people and various sports companies of more than 90 crimes and of either paying or accepting more than $200 million in bribes.
A spokesperson of Russian authorities, Dmitry Peskov to the media that they legally got the rights to organise and host the 2018 spectacular event.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery has stated that the allegations are part of a long-standing case which is not even a subject to the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process.
Even in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has put many sporting events on hold or pushed forward, the timings of the 2022 competition to be held in November and December of 2022, remain unchanged.
European football championships including Euro 2020 have been postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic.
An unsealed superseding indictment released on Monday brought to the light the how corruption marred the 2010 vote in Zurich which saw FIFA award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
“There was a gentlemen’s agreement at the heart of FIFA’s executive committee” Former Fifa boss Blatter told AFP.
Blatter was kicked out of the world’s governing over the allegations and is currently serving a ban from football.
Former Brazilian FIFA member Ricardo Teixeira and late Paraguayan official Nicolas Leoz, both members of the FIFA committee which voted on the 2018 and 2022 tournaments were also bribed to vote in favor of Kremlin and Doha.
In addition, Trinidad’s long-serving FIFA official Jack Warner “was promised and received” bribe payments totalling $5 million to vote for Russia while Guatemala’s Rafael Salguero was promised a $1 million bribe to vote for Russia.
Salguero pleaded guilty to multiple corruption charges in 2016 and was banned from FIFA while Warner, who faces charges in the United States, is currently battling extradition to the US from his native Trinidad.
In a statement, FIFA said it “supports all investigations into alleged acts of criminal wrong-doing regarding either domestic or international football competitions”.
“(FIFA) will continue to provide full cooperation to law enforcement officials investigating such matters,” it said.
“FIFA has itself been accorded victim status in the US criminal proceedings and senior FIFA officials are in regular contact with the US Department of Justice.”