The Qatar 2022 World Cup bid team has been accused of running a secret campaign to “sabotage” rival nations’ bids for the tournament in a Sunday Times report.
The report has revealed how Qatar allegedly hired a PR firm and former CIA agents ‘to pump out fake propaganda’ about rivals including USA and Australia.
It describes how the accusations are based on leaked documents, seen by the paper, from a whistleblower who worked on the Qatar bid.
The documents allege the campaign involved ‘recruiting influential people to attack the bids in their own countries’ and attempted to ‘create the impression’ that there was no support for the World Cup domestically.
The Qatar bid team has strongly denied the allegations.
In a statement sent to media outlets, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said: “The Supreme Committee rejects each and every allegation put forward by the Sunday Times.
“We have been thoroughly investigated and have been forthcoming with all information related to our bid, including the official investigation led by US attorney Michael Garcia. We have strictly adhered to all FIFA’s rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process.”
FIFA rules forbid statements about rival proposals while the criteria for hosting the 2022 tournament required support from home.
Another allegation focuses on one professor being paid £9,000 to write about the significant economic cost of hosting a World Cup in America, before the article was distributed to the international media.
The Times reports the documents also reveal the bid team recruited journalists, bloggers and high-profile figures to help undermine their rivals.
The Qatar bid has previously been accused of corruption but were cleared by Garcia following a two-year investigation.