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PACE to debate call for re-run of Qatar World Cup bid

Parliamentarians from the 47-nation Council of Europe will on Thursday debate a call on FIFA, football’s world governing body, to hold a new vote on the 2022 World Cup awarded to Qatar because of “illegal payments” made to secure the Cup.

In a surprise decision yesterday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted to bring forward discussion of the report, on “the reform of football governance”, by two months. FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who is currently running for re-election to his post, had been invited to address the Assembly as part of the debate.

The report, by Michael Connarty (United Kingdom, SOC), says “large sums of money” paid to over 30 senior African football officials or their national associations by FIFA’s Qatari Vice-President Mohammed bin Hammam – as revealed by the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper – ensured Qatar received the votes it needed at a key meeting. This excluded other bids, enabling Qatar to win later rounds of voting.

The procedure was so “fundamentally undermined by illegality” that it should be re-run using fairer procedures, the report says.

Mr Connarty said he had been able to examine the documents obtained by the Sunday Times in detail and found the evidence of illegal payments unequivocal. “Given the structured action of this scale and the sums involved, there can be no doubt that that there was a ‘direct correlation’ between these flagrant irregularities and the outcome of the vote,” he said.

The report, on the reform of football governance, also called on Qatar to respect the basic rights of foreign migrant workers and urged FIFA to encourage this process. It also addressed recommendations for improving transparency and governance to UEFA and other sports organisations.

The result of the vote is expected in the early evening on Thursday 23 April.