Sunday Times: PFF was allegedly bribed $15,000 to vote for Qatar’s Bin Hammam in 2011

Sunday Times: PFF was allegedly bribed $15,000 to vote for Qatar’s Bin Hammam in 2011

The Sunday Times (UK based prestigious newpaper) published an investigative story about the payments made by banned Mohammed Bin Hammam to football federations across Asia including the Pakistan Football Federation.

Here is the story from the newspaper: (By: Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert)

The soaring voice of a renowned soprano floated on the warm night air as Mohamed bin Hammam stepped onto the lantern-lit veranda of the Johannesburg Country Club. Dapper in a crisply cut suit, the silver-haired football grandee joined the illustrious guests milling around on lawns sloping gently to the lake.

It was July 5, 2010, with only six days to go before the World Cup final in the Soccer City stadium. Sumi Jo, the Korean diva, had been hired to entertain the football powerbrokers who descended on the club in Auckland Park.

Bin Hammam, head of Qatari football, was at the club as the special guest of Chung Mong-joon, a fellow member of the executive committee of Fifa, the sport’s international governing body.

Neither man was overawed by the wealth flaunted around them. Both were well acquainted with the power of money. The Qatari had made his fortune in construction and property. Chung, a South Korean, was the majority shareholder in Hyundai, the car and engineering giant.

They were also well-versed in the art of shifting alliances. Indeed, no stranger watching them chatting amicably would have realised that they had recently been sworn enemies.

In 2009 they were locked in a bitter war of words as Chung allegedly bankrolled a campaign against the Qatari.

“This man knows nothing about football,” Bin Hammam briefed at the time. Chung went further, accusing the Qatari of “suffering from mental problems”.

In 2010 there was further cause for enmity. South Korea and Qatar were bidding to become the hosts of the 2022 World Cup, pitting Chung and Bin Hammam against one another again.

Yet they were all but inseparable during the World Cup games in South Africa. Leaked documents show they travelled together between matches on Bin Hammam’s private jet, shared the astonishing luxury of Fifa’s VIP hospitality suites during important games and dined together in the neo-renaissance splendour of Johannesburg’s Michelangelo hotel.

Last week, we revealed Bin Hammam’s operation to buy support across Africa for Qatar’s bid using slush-fund payments of as much as $200,000 at a time.

Our second tranche of Fifa files show that masterful diplomacy, extravagant largesse and Machiavellian strategy played a crucial part in securing Asia’s votes. Bank transfer slips and emails also reveal that Bin Hammam made payments totalling $1.7m to football bosses across Asia fromthe same secret slush funds he used in Africa.

The documents lay bare in astonishing detail how the Qatari football boss spread his private wealth between officials across the continent in return for their loyalty.

Chung was the key to Bin Hammam’s game plan. He is a respected figure in Korea, an accomplished former sportsman and a politician with presidential ambitions.

The shrewd Qatari used just the right bait to lure him. As with so many of Bin Hammam’s operations uncovered from the Fifa files, it is a complex story of skulduggery in luxurious settings — and it has a sting in its tail.

POWER in world football arises not from skill on the pitch but from becoming boss of a national football association and then president of a regional confederation to claw one’s way onto Fifa’s 22-man executive committee (Exco).

Bin Hammam held one of Asia’s four seats on Exco and was also president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), an unwieldy, 47-member organisation covering a swathe of the globe from Syria to Australia.

In early 2009, he received intelligence that Chung was supporting a plot to topple him from the AFC. A rival from Bahrain, another Gulf statelet even smaller than Qatar, was allegedly being bankrolled by the South Korean.

The Qatari hired Peter Hargitay — a lobbyist and former aide to Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president — to conduct covert surveillance on Chung and his delegation as they arrived in Kuala Lumpur for the AFC congress in May that year when member countries would vote on Asia’s four Exco seats.

Bin Hammam had been tipped off that Chung’s associates were offering development grants of up to $200,000 to Asian national football associations to back Bahrain’s campaign. He was looking for hard proof.

“Below please find a first input re S-Korean delegation with initial descriptions of the assignment, private mobile numbers, arrival dates,” Hargitay wrote to Bin Hammam on April 29.

To help win the vote, Bin Hammam also used the services of Manilal Fernando, a rotund, Sri Lankan hustler and long-standing ally, who was employed by Fifa as its South Asian regional development officer.

Fernando’s emails reveal that his electioneering methods were far from straightforward. He sent Bin Hammam one report guaranteeing the votes of 12 AFC countries, adding: “I am sure of Pakistan and Afghanistan because I sent a mobile phone and both photographed the ballot paper inside the booth and showed it to me.”

The documents show that Fernando also received a payment of $23,000 from Bin Hammam’s slush fund as reimbursement for a cash gift he said he had given to Alberto Colaco, the general secretary of the Indian football association — after winning a guarantee of his support.

A bitter war of words erupted between Chung and Bin Hammam after the Qatari made public allegations about vote-buying. It threatened to drive a wedge through the heart of Asian football. The South Korean accused the Qatari of “acting like a head of a crime organisation” as president of the AFC.

Blatter intervened, publicly reminding the warring parties of “the fundamental principles of discipline and respect for opponents”.

In short order the attempted coup fizzled out, and Bin Hammam won the vote. Few were surprised when Fifa’s ethics committee cleared all concerned of wrongdoing. That was the way of handling spats in the Fifa “family”.

With his presidency secure, Bin Hammam had a new project to attend to: Qatar’s bid for the 2022 World Cup.

Strategy documents show that as early as June 2008, the Qatari had concluded that buying up support in Asia and Africa was crucial to winning the right to host a World Cup.

The files show that in 2009 he made a string of unexplained payments from accounts held by his private company, Kemco to football bosses across Asia. Among them was Mari Martinez, president of the Philippines football association. An unknown sum was paid into his wife’s bank account, and he went on to receive $12,500 in his own.

Ganbold Buyannemekh, president of the Mongolian FA, arranged payments of more than $40,000 to his daughter. Rahif Alameh, president of the Lebanese FA, had $100,000 paid into his personal account — the first tranche of $200,000 from Bin Hammam.

The core targets of Bin Hammam’s strategy, however, were his three fellow Asians on Exco: Chung, Worawi Makudi of Thailand, and Junji Ogura of Japan.

Bin Hammam could count on the unfailing loyalty of Makudi, a long-term ally. But Chung and Ogura presented a knottier problem as both Korea and Japan were also in the race for 2022. And in Chung’s case, the rivalry was not just patriotic but personal.

Nonetheless, Bin Hammam focused on Chung as the powerful figure he had to bring onside. The Qatari was not one to allow old enmities to stand in the way.

The files reveal a marked change of tack towards Chung as summer turned to autumn in 2009. In October, the month after Qatar set up its 2022 bid committee — in which Bin Hammam had no formal role despite being boss of Qatari football — one of his closest aides arranged for Chung to travel to Kuala Lumpur on AFC business.

The aide emailed instructions to upgrade Chung’s room at the five-star Shangri-La hotel to a suite and ensure he was given a dedicated car — all expenses paid.

The two rivals breakfasted together in the hotel’s Lemon Garden restaurant on the morning of November 24. From that occasion onwards, whenever Chung visited Kuala Lumpur he was lavished with the hospitality that Bin Hammam reserved for his closest friends and allies.

Bin Hammam’s aide later instructed staff in the AFC’s logistics department: “Please ALWAYS accord Dr Chung the presidential suite. This is a standing instruction.” And then: “Following my earlier email, please also ensure that the car for Dr Chung is Hyundai (highest range model) or if that is not available, then a Mercedes 300 or 500 model (newest model). This is also a standing instruction.” The extra cost was all to be charged to Bin Hammam’s presidential account at the AFC.

The lavish hospitality was reciprocal. The two men’s assistants were soon arranging for Bin Hammam to travel to South Korea in February to be hosted by Chung at the five-star Grand Hyatt hotel with dazzling views of Seoul’s futuristic cityscape.

Chung arranged for Bin Hammam to meet the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, a former top executive at Hyundai.

“Our meeting at the presidential Blue House was arranged by none other than my good friend and comrade-in-arms Dr Chung Mong-joon,” the Qatari gushed afterwards on his blog.

“What impressed me during the meeting was the Korean president’s vision for football … No wonder Korea’s bid for the 2022 Fifa World Cup has his full and unqualified support.”

Leaked correspondence shows that an alliance had been cemented. The documents record an intriguing deal in which Bin Hammam appears to have won Chung’s loyalty by offering to help him secure his re-election as vice president of Fifa in a ballot of AFC members that was due in January 2011.

By doing so, he established a vital claim on Chung’s loyalty that would pave the way for a vote-swapping pact which helped seal Qatar’s victory in the 2022 World Cup.

In an other twist, Bin Hammam gifted Chung the use of his trusted electoral fixer, Manilal Fernando, who had scuppered the South Korean’s attempted coup in 2009.

The Sri Lankan set to work lobbying voters, and not just to back Chung for Fifa vice-president and Bin Hammam for AFC president — Fernando himself was seeking a seat on Fifa’s Exco.

“I have just returned from Dubai, where I had a meeting with my group,” he wrote in an email to Chung on October 20. “All these countries agreed to support Mr Bin Hammam for president, you for Fifa vice-president and myself for Fifa Exco member. Allready Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Nepal and Tajikistan have signed your nomination. In addition Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Usbekistan  and Pakistan will send your nominations directly to the AFC to Mr Bin Hammam.

“Mr Bin Hammam is campaigning very hard for you … You are in a strong position with Mr Hammam, myself and Warawi [Makudi] all supporting you … Like I worked for Hammam last time I will work for him and you this time, do not worry we are winning.”

While there is no evidence that Chung knew about Fernando’s underhand tactics or had solicited the use of them, in emails to Bin Hammam the Sri Lankan sought large rewards for the countries he had locked down.

Fernando had an official role with the Goal Programme, the Fifa fund for football development in poor countries chaired by Bin Hammam. He sent Bin Hammam a list of Goal Programme payments of $400,000 each to countries in his group — Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Sri Lanka, asking the Qatari to use his position to obtain approval from the Goal Bureau.

Fernando was also keen that another source of football development money was generously lavished on key voters, writing to Bin Hammam in August to recommend loosening the purse strings of the AFC’s Aid 27 budget. “Until elections are over we must see that all funds due from Aid [27] to countries are paid without making it difficult for them with too many questions asked,” he suggested.

Bin Hammam continued to lavish football bosses with direct payments from the network of slush funds operated by Kemco. Asatulloev Zarifjon, president of the Tajikistan football federation, received $50,000 in June 2010. The next month, Fernando’s ally, Nidal Hadid of the Jordan FA, received $50,000 into his personal bank account from the account of Bin Hammam’s daughter, Aisha.

Another loyal ally of Fernando was handsomely rewarded for backing Bin Hammam. Ganesh Thapa, president of the Nepalese FA, was paid a total of £115,000 from two separate Kemco accounts in March and August 2010.

President Ganesh Thapa said last week to the newspaper that the money was paid as part of a business arrangement he had with Kemco.

 Bangladesh received $25,000 in November 2010, while Pakistan received about $15,000 in the same period. Afghanistan was paid $40,000 from the Kemco account. The documents do not record how the money was spent.

Behind the scenes, Bin Hammam and Chung were talking. The documents show how Bin Hammam had devised a vote-swapping deal that would give Qatar the absolute majority that sealed its 2022 victory. The foundations of his understanding with Chung appear to have been laid during a string of private meetings during the World Cup in South Africa.

Chung, his wife, two daughters, niece and two assistants shared Bin Hammam’s private jet between games and were invited to enjoy VIP hospitality alongside the Qatari crown prince, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, at a match in Cape Town.

In early June, Chung called Asia’s four Exco voters together for a summit over dinner at the Michelangelo hotel. It ought to have been a tense gathering — with the most senior officials of three rival bidding countries in one room representing interests which, on the face of it, were diametrically opposed. In the event, the chronology of the Fifa files suggests the meeting led up to the formation of a crucial pact that would ultimately sweep Qatar to victory.

On July 2, Chung had emailed Bin Hammam a friendly message: “There will be the quarter final between Uruguay and Ghana in Soccer City today. I would like to go with you and watch the game together. On the way, we can talk about various topics of mutual interest.”

They had much to discuss. Minutes of a meeting of the AFC executive committee in Kuala Lumpur the next month show a deal was on the table between the Asian members to back each other’s 2022 bids in the event that their home countries failed to survive the early voting rounds.

The host of the 2022 tournament was to be decided by a secret multiple-round ballot of Fifa’s 22 Exco members in December. The bidding nation that received the fewest votes in each round would be eliminated until a single candidate emerged with an absolute majority of 12.

Bin Hammam could be confident that he had enough African votes in his pocket for Qatar to do well in the first round. But, to reach an absolute majority in the final round, he needed pledges from Exco members to support Qatar once their first choices had been eliminated.

Four members of the Asian federation were vying for 2022: Qatar, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Bin Hammam discounted Australia, as it had no Exco vote, but needed the other two.

Documents record that he told those gathered at the AFC meeting, including Ogura and Chung: “We have four Asian nations bidding and three are represented in the Fifa executive committee. I, Dr Chung, Mr Ogura will be supporting our respective nations, Qatar, Korea Republic and Japan.

“But we should promise each other that if any of our bid loses, then the support will be switched to the other bidders not only by voting but also by campaigning for each other. I think this is the one thing we owe to our continent.”

He knew that if he got their pledges, they would have no chance because he had already stacked the decks in Qatar’s favour with the African votes, as The Sunday Times revealed last week. Furthermore, by seeking their pledges, Bin Hammam was entering a grey area.

Fifa rules banned member associations and bid committees from striking “any kind of agreement with any other member association or bid committee as regards to the behaviour during the bidding process [which] may influence the bidding process”. However, private agreements between Exco members of bidding countries were impossible to police and in effect fell outside the rules.

The ploy appears to have worked — with both Chung and Ogura widely acknowledged to have pledged their loyalty to their fellow Asian bids if their own countries dropped out.

Presenting his bid to the Asian Football Federation the same month, Ogura said: “The AFC President has made it clear that he will support Qatar. While I will surely vote for Japan, Dr Chung must be on his own country’s side. . . but no matter what, what is most important for the Asian football family is seeing the World Cup back on Asian soil.” It was a decisive moment.

When, on the bitterly cold night of December 2 in Zurich, members of Exco began to cast their secret ballots, Qatar stormed into the lead with 11 votes in the first round — just one shy of the 12 it needed for victory. Japan was level with the US on three while South Korea had four. Australia crashed out of the running with a single vote.

In the second round, Qatar dipped to 10, while Japan fell out with just two and South Korea clung on with five.

With Japan out of the race, Qatar regained a vote in the third round, while South Korea was eliminated.

In the fourth and final round, three votes swung to Qatar, propelling the tiny Gulf state to a victorious total of 14, six points ahead of the US.

THE sting in the story came in the Asian elections the next month. Fernando won his Exco seat and Bin Hamman was re-elected AFC president. But, despite all Fernando’s best lobbying efforts, the Asian federation members handed Chung’s Exco post to a Jordanian prince.

It was clearly a sore blow. But Bin Hammam had not forgotten Chung’s loyalty. The correspondence shows that soon after Chung lost his seat, Bin Hammam visited him in Seoul and made him a promise. The Qatari wrote to him after the meeting in February to thank him for the “fabulous” hospitality he had received on the visit. “I will do my best in Zurich and hope it will be successful,” he added.

The pledge is revealed in correspondence from Chung’s assistant, ES Kim, later that month. “During his visit to Korea, President Hammam mentioned … that he would propose Dr Chung as honorary Fifa vice-president at the upcoming Fifa Exco meeting and Dr Chung is deeply appreciative of this kind gesture from the AFC president,” he wrote.

“In relation to this matter, Dr Chung would like to send a letter to some of the Fifa Exco members, who, in his opinion, would support President Hammam’s proposal. Before sending out such a request letter, Dr Chung would like to sound out the opinion of the AFC president about his plan.”

Bin Hammam agreed and, sure enough, Chung got his wish. He was named Fifa’s only honorary vice-president later that year, a position he still holds today.

And the real sting is that both Bin Hammam and Manilal Fernando have since been banned for life from world football. In the Qatari’s case, this was for a “conflict of interest”; in the Sri Lankan’s , for corruption including conflict of interest, bribery, and accepting gifts.

Chung and Ogura did not respond to requests for comment last week.

The official rules of conduct:

Ethical behaviour The member association and the bid committee shall conduct any activities in relation to the bidding process in accordance with basic ethical principles such as integrity, responsibility, trustworthiness and fairness. The member association and the bid committee shall refrain from attempting to influence members of the Fifa executive committee or any other Fifa officials, in particular by offering benefits for specific behaviour.

Gifts The member association and the bid committee shall refrain, and shall ensure that each entity or individual associated or affiliated with it shall refrain, from providing to Fifa or to any representative of Fifa, to any member of the Fifa executive committee, the Fifa inspection group, Fifa consultants, or any of their respective relatives, companions, guests or nominees:

i) any monetary gifts;

ii) any kind of personal advantage that could give even the impression of exerting influence, or conflict of interest, either directly or indirectly, in connection with the bidding process, such as at the beginning of a collaboration, whether with private persons, a company or any authorities, except for occasional gifts that are generally regarded as having symbolic or incidental value and that exclude any influence on a decision in relation to the bidding process;

iii) any benefit, opportunity, promise, remuneration or service to any of such individuals, in connection with the bidding process.

Unfair collaboration The member association agrees to refrain from collaborating or colluding with any other member association or any other third party with a view to unfairly influencing the outcome of the bidding process.

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Original source: []

Editor’s Notes:

When contacted about the story, PFF Media Manager Shahid Khokhar added that there was no truth in the allegations posed by the Sunday Times and the PFF will shortly be issuing a statement regarding the matter.