By Claire Ferris-Lay
Rival city London says it is not a major concern; unlikely to affect championship bid
The chairman of the UK’s athletics association has said he is not concerned about a £5m ($7.9m) donation by Qatar to International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as part of the fight to host the 2017 World Championships.
Ed Warner said in comments published by UK media on Wednesday that the payment was unlikely to end his country’s chances of hosting the 2017 athletics showcase event.
UK media reported that Doha has offered to donate the multimillion dollar sum, the equivalent of all the prize money for the entire championships, in a bid to sway the 27 members of the council.
The payment, which is not illegal, was unlikely to affect the UK’s bid, said Warner in comments published by the UK's Telegraph newspaper.
“Our stars are aligned at the moment,” he told the paper. “I wouldn't say it's a major concern but it's an argument we have to counter.
“We've got a very long-term appealing commercial proposition for the IAAF which is based around the value of sponsorship income and broadcast income of this championships being in western Europe in 2017,” he added.
Warner last week said that Qatar would be “doughty opponents” given the Gulf state’s track record for winning bids, including the 2022 World Cup.
“They staged great indoor championships recently and are a new, virgin territory. That's something we have to counter with arguments that we have in terms of legacy and being sure of filling the stadium morning and evening with fans from multi-cultural London,” he added.
It is not the first time Qatar has offered cash donations in exchange for hosting sporting events.
Qatar’s former Asian Football Federation president Mohamed bin Hammam was handed a life ban by FIFA after finding him guilty of offering bribes during his campaign for FIFA presidency in May.
Bin Hammam played a key role in Qatar's success in winning the 2022 World Cup bid in December, but the bid denied any suggestion of wrongdoing.
Investors involved in the bidding process to develop the British racing track Silverstone last week were reportedly unhappy at the way the Alpha Group, a Qatari-backed consortium, has jumped to the front of the queue to become preferred bidder.
The investors are said to be particularly unhappy about an alleged non-refundable £1m ($1.6m) payment to the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) as a “gesture of goodwill”, the UK’s Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
The BRDC is believed to have initially shortlisted four bids for ownership of the iconic racetrack but in August the governing body sent a letter to PricewaterhouseCoopers confirming a fifth party had been identified and granted preferred bidder status.
Sources close to the rival bidders have claimed the £1m payment secured the privilege, the newspaper said. BRDC declined to comment, said the newspaper.