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Qatar 2022 World Cup committee denies wrongdoing

The logo of soccer's international governing body FIFA is seen on its headquarters in Zurich October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
The logo of soccer's international governing body FIFA is seen on its headquarters in Zurich October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

By Matt Smith

DUBAI (Reuters) - Qatar's 2022 World Cup organizing committee has denied being aware of any alleged payments by the disgraced former head of the country's soccer association to an ex-vice president of FIFA.

Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Tuesday that a company under the control of Mohamed Bin Hammam paid $1.2 million to Jack Warner, the former president of North American soccer's governing body CONCACAF and a member of the FIFA committee which chose the 2022 World Cup hosts.

One of Warner's companies requested that payment in December 2010, the Telegraph said, two weeks after a FIFA vote selected Qatar to stage the 2022 tournament ahead of rival bidders the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

Qatar's organizing committee has always denied any wrongdoing and on Tuesday again reiterated that its practices were above board.

"The 2022 Bid Committee strictly adhered to FIFA's bidding regulations in compliance with their code of ethics," the Committee said in a statement.

"The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and the individuals involved in the 2022 Bid Committee are unaware of any allegations surrounding business dealings between private individuals."

The Committee declined to comment on further questions asked by Reuters.

The Telegraph also alleged that $750,000 was paid to Warner's sons, citing documents it says indicate the various payments to Warner family members were to "offset legal and other expenses" and "professional services provided over the period 2005-2010".

It was reported in March 2013 that an FBI probe into corruption in international soccer had recruited Warner's son Daryan as a co-operating witness.

Opting to host the world's biggest soccer tournament in a tiny desert state where daytime summer temperatures rarely fall below 40 degrees Celsius has provoked widespread anger.

Among those opposing the decision have been Europe's leading clubs and human rights groups highlighting dire working conditions in Qatar's construction sector.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter previously admitted the governing had made a "bad mistake" over the bid processes for choosing the 2018 and 2022 World Cup venues, which were held simultaneously and led to the suspension of two Executive Committee members who attempted to sell their votes for cash.

Qatari Bin Hammam, the ex-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and a former member of FIFA's executive committee, challenged Blatter's re-election as president, but days before the 2011 vote Bin Hammam was accused of trying to bribe Caribbean officials to vote for him in a plot orchestrated by Warner.

Bin Hammam and Warner both denied wrongdoing, but Warner subsequently quit his FIFA and CONCACAF positions and Bin Hammam was banned for life from all FIFA and soccer activities.

(Additional reporting by Amena Bakr in Doha; editing by Ed Osmond)

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