Qatar World Cup probe will test Fifa

2014-03-30 14:00

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Fifa presidential candidate Jérôme Champagne believes the scandal- hit 2022 Qatar World Cup will test the world football governing body’s resolve.

This comes in the wake of ongoing controversy surrounding the awarding of the rights to Qatar to host the tournament in eight years’ time.

Fifa is investigating allegations of irregular payments from a company owned by former Fifa vice-president Mohamed bin Hammam, a Qatari national, to fellow former Fifa member Jack Warner, a Trinidadian.

But Champagne is confident Fifa’s chief investigator, Michael Garcia, will bring closure to the Qatar World Cup scandal.

Champagne believes Garcia, the head of the investigatory chamber of Fifa’s ethics committee, is the right man to unearth any muck in the bidding process.

But he said he subscribed to the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

“Let us pursue the investigation because the World Cup has to be impeccable and celebrated without doubt. If there was a problem, we need to know and I am confident Michael will do a thorough investigation,” Champagne told City Press in a telephonic interview this week.

Allegations of abuse of migrant construction workers have also been levelled at Qatar.

“It is good that we are taking the World Cup to the Arab country, but the problem is threefold. For me, the World Cup is a celebration of football and universality, and we cannot enjoy that celebration if it is based on the blood, suffering and the deaths of workers.

“I am happy Fifa has decided to tackle the issue of human rights to change the situation there.”

There is also concern about the timing of the tournament, when the summer weather in the Gulf nation will be beyond sweltering.

According to Champagne, the requirements for the bidding process were clear and the event was set for June/July, the traditional period in which Fifa World Cups take place.

“It seems bizarre that they now want to put it to the vote. It’s like winning a tender to build a road from Cape Town to George and then saying it will go from Durban to Pretoria.

“It is going to be a big problem,” said the Frenchman.

Anatomy of a scandal

How the scandal unfolded and the backlash against Qatar grew

.?The UK Telegraph last week reported former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner may have received $1.2?million (R12.7?million) from a company controlled by erstwhile fellow Fifa executive Mohamed bin Hammam to sway the vote

on the 2022 World Cup in favour of Qatar, which beat the US by six (14 to 8) of the 22 votes in the final round of voting in 2010.

.?The International Trade Union Confederation this week released a damning report estimating more than 4?000 migrant workers could die as a result of inhumane working conditions at the stadium and other infrastructure projects in Qatar.

.?The intense summer heat in the tiny Gulf nation, which can shoot up to 45°C, has also come under the spotlight, with critics suggesting the tournament should be moved to winter or simply be taken away from Qatar.

.?In recent days, The UK Guardian also reported Qatar was using “semislave labour” for the construction of stadiums and other infrastructure for the event.

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