A key sponsor of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup, Sony, has called for an "appropriate investigation" into allegations the Gulf state bribed officials from football’s world governing body FIFA during the bidding process.
The request came as London’s The Sunday Times published new allegations based on a leak of millions of secret documents.
The new report suggests Qatar's former FIFA vice-president Mohamed bin Hammam used his top level contacts in the Qatari royal family and government to arrange deals and favours to secure the World Cup for his country.
Bin Hammam, who has since been banned for life from football, allegedly brokered government-level talks between Qatar and Thailand for a gas deal potentially worth tens of millions of dollars in return for the country’s vote.
The Sunday Telegraph also said it had evidence Bin Hammam was invited to visit Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss "bilateral relations" in sport between Russia and Qatar a month before the World Cup vote took place in December 2010, which resulted in both countries winning the right to host the tournament in 2018 and 2022, respectively.
They also allege he arranged for UEFA football chief Michel Platini to meet the Qatari bid committee and that he arranged discreet meetings with members of the Qatari royal family for at least seven key FIFA executive committee members, including the body's president Sepp Blatter.
Bin Hammam used secret slush funds to pay a total $1.7m to football officials across Asia, the newspaper claimed.
The new revelations and concerns from Sony, the Japanese electronics giant, have increased pressure on FIFA to act on the allegations.
“As a FIFA partner, we expect these allegations to be investigated appropriately," the company said in a statement to The Sunday Times.
"We continue to expect FIFA to adhere to its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play across all aspects of its operations.”
Blatter and Platini refused to comment on the Bin Hammam allegations when they were approached by media after leaving a meeting on Saturday night.
The Qatar bid committee has continued to deny any wrongdoing.
FIFA’s in-house investigator Michael Garcia said last week he would cut short his investigation into corruption in the World Cup bidding process without reviewing the fresh evidence.For all the latest lifestyle news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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