Jim Boyce would have ‘no problem’ recommending World Cup re-vote

Northern Irish FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce
Northern Irish FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce

FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce says he would have “no problem” recommending a re-vote to find a new host for the Qatar 2022 World Cup if corruption allegations are proven.

The Sunday Times claimed it has received “hundreds of millions” of documents which allegedly reveal disgraced former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments to football officials in return for votes for Qatar.

The Qatar 2022 World Cup bid committee denied all allegations of wrong-doing in a statement yesterday, but several officials are calling for a more thorough examination even as FIFA’s chief investigator Michael Garcia continues with an ongoing probe into the bid.

FIFA vice-president Boyce, who was not on the executive committee on the world governing body at the time of the vote, told Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme he would be in favour of re-running the vote for the 2022 World Cup if the allegations were proven.

“As a member currently of the FIFA executive committee, we feel that any evidence whatsoever that people involved were bribed to do a certain vote, all that evidence should go to Michael Garcia, whom FIFA have given full authority to, and let’s await the report that comes back from Garcia,” the former Irish FA president said.

“If Garcia’s report comes up and his recommendations are that wrongdoing happened for that vote for the 2022 World Cup, I certainly as a member of the executive co would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a re-vote.”

Boyce pointed out that 50 per cent of the executive committee members at the time of the 2022 vote had since left the governing body, and also insisted FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s position should not be called into question by the allegations.

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has said the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup must be done again if allegations of corruption are proven.

Dyke, speaking to Channel 4 News, said: “Some of this evidence on the face of it is quite compelling.

“If the evidence is there, that the process is corrupt, then obviously the process has to be looked at again.”

In a separate interview with BBC Sport, Dyke said: “I think if it is shown it was a corrupt system and that the people who won used bribes and other influences to get the vote, then of course it has got to be done again.”

In a statement, the bid committee said Bin Hammam had no association with them.

“The Qatar 2022 bid committee always upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity in its successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” the statement said.

“In regard to the latest allegations from The Sunday Times, we say again that Mohamed Bin Hammam played no official or unofficial role in Qatar’s 2022 Bid Committee. As was the case with every other member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, our bid team had to convince Mr. Bin Hammam of the merits of our bid.

“We are cooperating fully with Mr. Garcia’s on-going investigation and remain totally confident that any objective enquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly.

“Following today’s newspaper articles, we vehemently deny all allegations of wrong-doing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking in to this matter. The right to host the tournament was won because it was the best bid and because it is time for the Middle East to host its first FIFA World Cup.”

The Sunday Times alleged Bin Hammam, also the former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president who was banned for life from football administration by the FIFA ethics committee, had made payments into accounts controlled by the presidents of 30 African football associations and accounts controlled by the Trinidadian Jack Warner, a former vice-president of FIFA.

Although Sunday’s statement distanced Bin Hammam from the bid committee, bid chairman Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani gave an interview to World Football Insider in 2010 in which he described Bin Hammam as the bid’s “biggest asset”.

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said: “If these revelations in the Sunday Times prove to be correct they are obviously extremely serious.”