UK & World News
Fifa Feels Heat Amid Fresh World Cup Claims
Qatar deployed its political connections and natural gas wealth to help win the 2022 World Cup, according to allegations published by the Sunday Times.
For the second week running the newspaper has published details of meetings and deals that it claims demonstrate former Fifa executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam broke bid rules as he lobbied on behalf of his country's bid.
The Qatar bid deny that Mr Bin Hammam, since banned for life from football, was directly linked to the bid or worked on their behalf.
Fifa sponsor Sony has called on world football's governing body to investigate the allegations thoroughly.
"As a Fifa partner, we expect these allegations to be investigated appropriately," the company said in a statement to The Sunday Times.
"We continue to expect Fifa to adhere to its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play across all aspects of its operations."
In a statement on Sunday, the Qatar Supreme Committee said: "Consistent with Fifa's rules we have been asked to refrain from commenting on the investigation and we will comply with that request.
"Qatar has won the bid on its merits and we are confident that at the end of the appropriate process, the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar will stand."
World Cup sponsor adidas said in a statement: "adidas enjoys a long-term and successful partnership with Fifa that we are looking forward to continue.
"Having said that, the negative tenor of the public debate around Fifa at the moment is neither good for football nor for Fifa and its partners."
The latest allegations, gleaned from millions of documents in the possession of the newspaper, suggest Mr Bin Hammam was in contact with bid officials as he brokered meetings between senior Fifa officials and the Emir of Qatar.
The newspaper alleges Mr Bin Hammam met Vladimir Putin, then the Russian prime minister, weeks before the vote in December 2010, to discuss "bilateral sporting relations".
Putin was backing Russia's 2018 World Cup bid, which beat England on the way to winning the right to host the tournament.
It also alleges Mr Bin Hammam helped broker a natural gas deal between his country and Thailand.
It reports that an advisor to Fifa executive committee member Worawi Makudi met senior Qatari energy officials to discuss a deal.
Asked by Sky News if he was concerned about the allegation Mr Makudi said: "No, not at all."
The Sunday Times also claims Mr Bin Hammam brokered meetings between the Emir and nine senior Fifa executive committee members, and distributed £1.7m from a slush-fund to Asian football officials.
It says its latest disclosures prove that Mr Bin Hammam was actively working for the Qatar bid.
Qatar re-stated the denial issued last week after the newspaper alleged that Mr Bin Hammam paid around £3m in bribes to African football officials.
"The Qatar 2022 Bid Committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup.
"In regard to the latest allegations from The Sunday Times, we say again that Mohamed Bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar's 2022 Bid Committee."
Fifa President Sepp Blatter declined to comment on the matter as a meeting of the executive committee concluded in Sao Paulo on Saturday evening.
The governing body has charged US attorney Michael Garcia with investigating the allegations, and he will not report until after the World Cup.
Mr Garcia will be in Sao Paulo this week to discuss his investigation with Fifa officials.
He is also expected to attend the Fifa Congress starting on Tuesday.