France Indicts First FIFA Official for Corruption in Qatar World Cup Bid
French prosecutors have indicted a former vice-president of FIFA for "passive corruption" in relation to bribery allegations surrounding the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in 2010, Le Monde reported first and OCCRP confirmed on Monday.
The indictment marks the first significant development in the ongoing investigation known as the "Qatargate" case, and it could potentially lead to further legal actions against other individuals and entities.
Reynald Temarii, a Tahitian who also served as the head of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), is suspected of entering into a deceptive agreement with Qatari billionaire Mohamed Bin Hammam, also known as "MBH," in late 2010.
The agreement allegedly involved Temarii supporting Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup in exchange for undisclosed benefits.
However, their plan was exposed when an investigation into the bidding process was made public. Consequently, Temarii and another executive committee member from Nigeria were suspended by FIFA in November 2010, just weeks before the bid, following allegations of their involvement in "cash for votes."
These allegations implicated them in bribery and corruption related to the World Cup bids.
At the time, Temarii held the position of FIFA vice president and head of the OFC. He received a one-year ban from all soccer activities and was also stripped of his voting rights on future World Cup bids. Temarii appealed the ruling, but the outcome resulted in the OFC losing its world cup voting rights.
According to French prosecutors cited by Le Monde, Hammam allegedly encouraged Temarii, who had lost his voting rights, to appeal his punishment and this way prevent the appointment of a new representative who opposed Qatar.
Qatar ultimately emerged as the winner of the ballot with a 14-8 vote in favor of hosting the World Cup, surpassing the U.S.
The French prosecutor, as reported by Le Monde, alleges that Hammam attempted to "neutralize a vote in favor of Qatar's competitors" by sponsoring Temarii's defense costs.
Years later, new allegations surfaced claiming that Temarii had received over 300,000 euro from Hammam. FIFA conducted an investigation into these allegations, and in May 2015, Temarii was suspended from all national and international football activities for eight years due to the violation of FIFA's ethics code.
Hammam, who previously served as the head of the Asian Football Confederation and a FIFA executive member, has been banned from football for life since 2012.