Qatar paid the African Football Confederation $1.8 million to be able to present its bid for the 2022 World Cup at a congress, the continent’s top football official told a French magazine Tuesday.
And AFC president Issa Hayatou said he saw nothing wrong with the payment made just before the confederation held a congress in the Angolan capital in January 2010.
Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup later the same year during a controversial FIFA vote now under investigation by Swiss authorities.
The Paris based Jeune Afrique magazine asked Hayatou about reports that he had accepted one million dollars from Qatar on behalf of the confederation.
“It was $1.8 million, not one million. Paid in two times 900,000 dollars,” the controversial AFC chief replied.
“The Qataris gave it to us to be able to show their plan (for the 2022 World Cup) during the congress.”
Hayatou insisted he had not expected other candidates, including the United States and Australia, to pay to get a similar privilege.
“Not necessarily. We didn’t ask Qatar to do it. They proposed it. We did not ban the other candidates from taking part in the presentation,” he was quoted as saying, while also denying that it was a bid to buy African votes.
“No. On top, I convented immediately after a meeting of the CAF executive committee to say that what had happened did not commit us to anything. I did not make any recommendation and everyone voted according to their soul and conscience.”
Hayatou also denied there was any corruption in the vote which gave the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.
US investigators believe that a $10 million payment made by South Africa to a disgraced Caribbean football official was a bid to buy votes. South Africa has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
“Fixed by who?” said Hayatou. “All I can tell you is that we, the Africans, carried out a draw so we did not give the impression we were for one or the other candidate.”
The 2006 vote for the first World Cup in Africa was between South Africa and Morocco. Hayatou said it was decided to give two of Africa’s FIFA executive committee votes to South Africa and two to Morocco.
British media reports have linked Hayatou to corruption scandals. But he said he did not think that FIFA was riddled with corruption and added that he was not worried by the controversies that have rocked the world body.
“I am not afraid of anything because I have not done anything,” said Hayatou. “My conscience is clear,” he was quoted as saying.
Swiss authorities are investigating the attribution of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. US investigators have charged 14 people over the paying of more than $150 million in bribes to soccer officials. – Agence France-Presse