UK & World News
Fifa To Investigate Qatar Corruption Claims
Fifa's ethics committee is to examine fresh allegations of corruption against two former vice-presidents of world football's governing body.
Earlier this week the Daily Telegraph alleged that Jack Warner, once one of the most influential and notorious figures at Fifa, received $1.2m from a company controlled by Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Fifa vice-president and a senior figure in Qatar's bid for the 2022 World Cup.
No explanation for the payments has been offered, but the newspaper alleged that an invoice for the payments was issued within days of Qatar winning the right to host the 2022 tournament in December 2010. The money was finally paid in July 2011.
There have been numerous allegations of corruption against the Qatar 2022 bid, all of which it has denied. The tiny Emirate won a secret ballot of Fifa's executive committee, defeating bids from the USA, Australia, Japan and Korea.
In a statement released on Friday Fifa's chief investigator Michael Garcia said he was aware of allegations against Mr Warner and Mr Bin Hammam.
In a statement read to a media conference in Zurich by a Fifa official, Mr Garcia said: "The ethics committee is aware in the published article, and as with any allegation of misconduct, the ethics committee will take whatever action is considered appropriate."
Fifa president Sepp Blatter refused to comment on the allegation until Mr Garcia's investigation is completed.
"I am happy that now we have an independent committee for ethics, it is a matter for the committee, I am not going to make any comments, please understand, as long as this file is open."
Mr Garcia has been examining the conduct of the 2018 and 2022 bid processes for more than a year and it remains unclear when he will report.
He visited Zurich unannounced this week and interviewed the 13 current members of the executive committee who took part in the 2010 election.
Mr Blatter also said he would visit Qatar before the Brazil World Cup this summer to seek reassurances on the issue of workers' rights.
Doha has been heavily criticised for the number of deaths among migrant construction workers, and Fifa is under pressure to secure assurances that World Cup venues will be built in safer conditions.
Mr Blatter also dismissed calls for the 2018 World Cup to be stripped from Russia following its annexation of the Crimea.
Former culture secretary Andy Burnham is among those who has said it should be considered as retaliation for Russia's actions.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, also a Fifa executive committee member, gave a progress report to his colleagues on Friday, and Mr Blatter said there was no chance of it being removed.
"The World Cup has been voted to Russia and we are going forward with that work," he said.