The Qatar 2022 World Cup bid team is accused of breaking FIFA rules by running a secret propaganda campaign to sabotage their rivals for the tournament.
Documents said to have been provided by a whistleblower who worked with the Qatar bid have surfaced today.
The bid team allegedly used a PR agency and former CIA operatives in a 'black ops' dissemination of fake propaganda about its main competitors, the United States and Australia.
This allegedly involved recruiting prominent figures to criticise the bids in their own countries, thus giving the impression they lacked support at home, The Sunday Times claims.
FIFA rules say that bidders must 'refrain 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’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it 'rejected' all the claims made by the paper.
Smear allegations include:
Paying an academic $9,000 to write a negative report on the economic cost of a U.S. World Cup and circulating it in the international media
Negative aspects of other countries' bids hyped up by journalists and bloggers
Recruiting American physical education teachers to ask U.S. Congressmen to oppose a World Cup in the states on grounds the cash would be better spent in schools
Compiling intelligence reports on individuals engaged in rival bids
Orchestrating grassroots protests at rugby matches in Australia
Authorities are said to have recruited journalists and bloggers to promote negative stories in the states, Australian and international media, and organising grassroots protests at rugby matches in Australia.
The leaked documents also revealed that a group of American PE teachers had been recruited to ask congressmen to oppose a US World Cup on the grounds the money would be better spent on high school sports, the paper claimed.
Lord Triesman, former chairman of the Football Association and England bid chairman, urged FIFA to 'look at the evidence thoroughly', and said Qatar should not be allowed to 'hold on to the World Cup' if they were shown to have broken FIFA rules.
He told the paper: 'I think it would not be wrong for FIFA to reconsider England in those circumstances … We have the capabilities.'
The Qatar bid team has previously been accused of corruption, but was cleared following a two-year inquiry by the FIFA ethics committee.
In a statement, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said: 'The Supreme Committee 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.
'We have strictly adhered to all FIFA’s rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process.'
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.