France is accusing officials from Qatar and FIFA of corruption over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup organization to the Arab country.
Rabat – Following three years of preliminary investigations by French authorities, France opened a formal judicial inquiry into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup organization to Qatar and the suspected corruption behind it.
France’s National Public Prosecutor’s Office opened the inquiry officially on Monday, December 9.
The initial investigations aimed to determine whether a private dinner between officials from the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) and Qatari bid promoters influenced the selection process.
The World Cup 2022 organization vote took place nine days after the dinner. Then French president Nicolas Sarkozy hosted the dining event at the Elysee Palace in Paris. The dinner included the Qatari crown prince Tamim bin Hamad al Thani who is undertaking the country’s preparations for the tournament.
French authorities accused the Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) former president Michel Platini of switching his vote in favor of Qatar following the meal. Investigators suspected Platini of discussing potential lucrative trade deals between France and Qatar.
French police arrested and interviewed Platini in June 2019. However, the Frenchman denied the claims and insisted that his vote was in favor of global football development.
The inquiry will also concern FIFA’s former president Sepp Blatter. In 2015, Blatter was suspended from football for six years over an alleged payment of $2 million to Platini, only months after the award of the tournament to Qatar in December 2010.
Qatar won the vote over the favored US with a score of 14 to 8 in the final round of voting.
In 2011, only one month after the vote, Qatar announced testing French Dassault Rafale fighter jets to upgrade its military fleet. The Gulf country later bought 24 of the jets for $7 billion.
After the opening of the inquiry by French authorities, FIFA also announced the reopening of its own investigation.
FIFA has already published allegations bribery against three people on its 2022 World Cup website.
In November 2019, FIFA posted that three former football officials; Ricardo Teixeira from Brazil, Nicolas Leoz from Paraguay, and Julio Grondona from Argentina, have allegedly received payments to vote for Qatar.
The inquiry announcement comes as Qatar is in the final stages of preparation for hosting the 2022 World Cup. In September 2019, Qatar unveiled the tournament’s emblem in several world heritage sites around the world. The Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat was among the places that showcased the emblem.