The paper wrote, “FIFA’s top investigator has been called in to examine evidence that the winners of the right to host the 2022 World Cup secretly offered $1m (£630,000) to the son of one of the voters. Documents passed to FIFA by The Sunday Times show the Qatar bid team offered the cash to Samson Adamu, 26, the son of Amos Adamu, the FIFA executive committee (exco) member. The money was to fund a dinner and workshop on the eve of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, though it cost a fraction of the sum offered.
“The deal was brokered by Ali al-Thawadi, the deputy chief executive of the Qatar bid, months before the contest in December 2010 to host the 2022 World Cup. He (Ali) denied knowledge of the offer when contacted last week. However, after being presented with our evidence, Qatar 2022 lawyers accepted there had been discussions and a contract had been drawn up, but said the team had later backed out of the deal after considering the “relevant FIFA rules”.
The PUNCH spoke with Samson Adamu in a telephone interview on Sunday and he denied the allegation.
He said, “That event they talked about is of public knowledge; it was no secret. In any case, I’ve not read the publication you are talking about but all I can say is that I had no underhand dealing with anybody associated with Qatar 2022 World Cup bid. It’s all falsehood.”
The Times report adds, “Secret documents seen by The Sunday Times show that Samson had been offered $1m to arrange the dinner by the Qatar committee competing to host the 2022 World Cup, months before his father was due to vote on which bidder should be allowed to hold the tournament. Amos Adamu was one of 24 members of the FIFA executive committee (exco) which decides where the World Cup is to be held.
“This newspaper (Times) has uncovered an extensive paper trail which shows how Qatar offered to pay Adamu’s son the seven-figure sum to host a dinner and workshop. In the end this cost about a fifth of the amount on the table. The funding of the glittering dinner remains shrouded in mystery. Invoices seen by this newspaper indicate that the event, called the African Legends’ gala dinner, cost about $220,000, a sum apparently way beyond the means of Samson’s company which had been set up months before with only £4,000 in share capital. Qatar says it had no financial involvement, no other sponsors were publicly linked to the dinner and guests were not charged for their tickets.
“The evidence that the Gulf state had secretly offered Adamu’s son a vastly inflated sum to host the African Legends’ dinner has emerged in emails and documents passed to The Sunday Times by a source working for a powerful figure in world football. The emails show how the plan for Qatar to pay Samson to host a football dinner was hatched between the young entrepreneur and Thawadi. The document states that Qatar agreed to pay Samson’s company “a fee of US$1,000,000 (One million United States Dollars)” for “sponsorship rights” of the dinner to be held in June 2010.
“The next step was to get the elders of African football on side. Samson lobbied the CAF executive to get behind the dinner at a meeting in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, on February 20. Samson then arranged a meeting with the Qataris at the Intercontinental hotel in London on March 4 to finalise the agreement. His Swiss lawyer, Daniel Magerle, was to fly over with him. Emails show Magerle had offered to assist Samson by setting up a Swiss association and a bank account which could be used to channel the payment for the legends’ dinner.
“Magerle encountered a snag, however. UBS, the Swiss bank, refused to open an account “as Swiss banks are very sensitive these days and international pressure has increased on certain matters”. He quickly offered a solution: Samson could ask for the cash to be paid into his own client account,” the Times report stated.
The account continues, When approached last week, the lawyer initially refused to comment. But after speaking to Samson he came back to say the meeting never took place because the deal had fallen through. Nor had he gone ahead with the plan to set up a Swiss association. Magerle said he did not know why the deal had broken down or how the dinner had been financed, but he assumed Samson had found some other source of ready cash.
“A prominent African journalist said Amos Adamu had approached him in March to ask for help in finding former football stars to honour at his son’s dinner. The dinner, held on July 8, was attended by eminent football figures including David Dein, the former Arsenal chairman, and Lennart Johansson, the former UEFA president.
“The members of the CAF executive committee kept their promise to “grace” the event with their presence, as did about six FIFA exco members. Around 20 famous African footballers, including Kalusha Bwalya. The guests were welcomed by Issa Hayatou, the president of CAF, and Kirsten Nematandani, president of the South African FA,” the Sunday report alleged.
“ It is not clear whether any of the powerful figures who attended ever knew of Qatar’s planned involvement, but there was a distinct air of discomfort when this newspaper raised questions about the dinner’s funding.”