By Liam Morgan |
A “black operations” campaign was allegedly conducted by the Qatar 2022 bid team in an attempt to discredit and sabotage rivals in the race for the World Cup, it has been claimed.
An investigation conducted by the Sunday Times has alleged Qatar 2022 hired former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents and a public relations company to spread fake propaganda, largely about the United States and Australia’s respective bids for the tournament.
The claims go against FIFA’s bidding rules, which prohibit candidates from “making any written or oral statements of any kind, whether adverse or otherwise, about the bids or candidatures of any other member association which has expressed an interest in hosting and staging the competitions”.
Qatar 2022 officials have denied all of the accusations made in the Sunday Times report.
In what represents the latest suggestion of wrongdoing by Qatar 2022, the paper claims that the secret campaign was designed to give the impression that a World Cup would not be supported domestically in the US and Australia.
The New York office of communications company Brown Lloyd Jones were reportedly hired to run the smear campaign.
Citing leaked emails from a whisteblower, the report alleges Qatar 2022 recruited influential people to attack the US and Australian bids in their respective countries.
Journalists and bloggers were also employed to carry out this aim, according to the paper.
Qatar 2022 allegedly paid one respected academic $9,000 to write a negative report on the economic impact of a World Cup in the US.
Grassroots protests were also allegedly orchestrated as part of the secret plot at rugby matches in Australia.
Qatar controversially secured the hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup over bids from the US, Australia and a joint South Korean and Japanese attempt at a vote of the FIFA Executive Committee in December 2010.
The bid from the gulf nation has been the subject of intense controversy and scrutiny since the vote.
Allegations of corruption have hung over Qatar 2022 in recent years but the bid was cleared of wrongdoing in a report by American lawyer Michael Garcia.
In a statement, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it “rejects each and every allegation put forward by the Sunday Times.”
“We have been thoroughly investigated and have been forthcoming with all information related to our bid, including the official investigation led by US attorney Michael Garcia,” it said.
“We have strictly adhered to all FIFA’s rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process.”
insidethegames has contacted FIFA for comment.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.