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Whistleblower Who Alleged Qatar World Cup Bribes Wanted FIFA’s Protection

Soccer’s governing body didn’t hear allegations made by an ex-employee of Qatar’s World Cup bid about bribes in the campaign for the 2022 event because the worker made unacceptable demands, FIFA said.

The person had told the Sunday Times newspaper that the Gulf state paid FIFA Vice President Issa Hayatou and Ivory Coast official Jacques Anouma $1.5 million each to choose Qatar over four other nations, including the U.S. Both men and Qatar, the surprise winner, deny the allegations.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who last week was voted into a fourth four-year term after his Qatari challenger pulled out amid separate bribery allegations, said May 19 that the Sunday Times agreed to bring the whistleblower to FIFA’s Zurich headquarters.

“Among others, the problems were that the whistleblower gave no warranty for the accuracy and correctness of the information he/she was providing, asked for the right to destroy the information at any time and that the information he/she provided not be made public,” FIFA said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News. The person also asked for “an unlimited witness protection program.”

FIFA has been forced to defend the choice of World Cup host as well as other allegations in recent months. Corruption probes had led to 10 of its 24-member executive body being suspended or accused of improper behavior. Blatter in his election speech to FIFA’s 208-member associations acknowledged it was in “troubled waters.” After 13 years as president he’s promised to root out corruption and increase transparency.

‘Bought’ World Cup

Blatter yesterday said he wouldn’t call for an investigation into Qatar’s victory unless FIFA’s new Solutions Committee or ethics body requests one. Last week, an e-mail from FIFA’s General Secretary Jerome Valcke was published in which the official said gas-rich Qatar “bought” the World Cup. Valcke later said he meant the desert-state used all its financial might in its lobbying efforts.

Qatar’s bid team has denied allegations of wrongdoing, including a 1,700-word rebuttal to the claims in which it described the allegations as “distressing, insulting and incomprehensible.”

FIFA also said the whistleblower asked to be indemnified “for any breaches of contract he/she would be sued for, for any liabilities and for any potential criminal proceedings related to the agreement.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in London at tpanja@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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