A Qatar bid team for the 2022 FIFA World Cup might have won the right to hold the championship by undermining rival bids, The Sunday Times wrote, citing documents provided by an anonymous whistleblower who worked with the bid team.
According to the documents provided by the media's source, the team paid a respected academic to give a negative report on financial costs of organizing the World Cup in the US, as well as several journalists and bloggers to create negative buzz around the topic in different rival countries.
Qatar also allegedly recruited a number of US physical education teachers to lobby US congressmen to spend money on high school sports, rather than on a grand football event. Apart from that, the bid team purportedly organized a grassroots campaign in Australia to oppose country's bid for the 2022 World Cup.
The media platform added that Qatar reportedly hired a New York-based PR firm Brown Lloyd Jones and several former CIA employees to run a scheme aimed at undermining rival bids. The ex-CIA officers allegedly used their skills to prepare reports on key figures in the bid teams of Qatar's rivals to host the 2022 World Cup.
Doha has rejected the allegations made in The Sunday Times article, recalling that the investigation by Michael Garcia into other alleged misconduct by Qatar regarding the World Cup bid proved the country not guilty of the charges being leveled at it.
US lawyer Michael Garcia conducted a two-year investigation into accusations against Qatar that suggested the country had bribed its way into winning the right to host the World Cup in 2022. The allegations arose in 2011 after whistleblower from the Qatar bid team Phaedra Almajid claimed several senior FIFA officials were paid by Doha to support the bid. She later retracted her statements, saying she fabricated them to get revenge on the bid team because she had been fired.
In 2014 the same Sunday Times announced that it possessed documents proving the then head of the Asian Football Confederation Mohammed bin Hammam had paid over $5 million to FIFA officials to support the bid. Michael Garcia's complete report was published in 2017 and dispelled the accusations of bribery and extortion that were allegedly present in FIFA.