Woman at Centre of Fifa Allegations Says She was Coerced into Retracting Allegations

Woman at Centre of Fifa Allegations Says She was Coerced into Retracting Allegations

The woman at the centre of the corruption allegations in world football’s governing body Fifa says she will “look over my shoulder for the rest of my life”.

Phaedra Al-Majid blew the whistle on corrupt practises after Qatar was successful in their bid to host the World Cup in 2022.

She worked as an international media officer for the Qatar 2022 bid and alleged that Qatari officials offered to bribe Fifa officials in return for their support. 

The whistleblower, who lost her job in 2010, made the allegations a year later and has retracted the affidavit she signed saying her initial claims were false. 

She told the BBC “I had no more legal representation. When the Qataris approached me, I was alone. I’m also the single mother of two children, one of whom is severely autistic and severely disabled.”

She said her accusations introduced her to “a whole new culture of paranoia, fear and threatsW.

Al-Majid said she was visited by officers from the FBI in September 2011 after they became aware of the threats made against her.

In response, Qatar said they “stand by the integrity of their bid”.

They said a series of allegations about their conduct had been “over a period of years, investigated, tested, considered and dismissed”.

She said: “They questioned me about the Qatari bidding process and they questioned me about all the threats I had received from the Qataris.

“It was decided at that point that I would help them with their investigation and it was planned that I would talk to a senior official at the Qatar bid.

“So when I talked to the official – and the FBI are recording this – he did admit that there was a deal for the affidavit, that I would basically say that they had done no wrongdoing.”

She later told all she knew to the US investigator Michael Garcia whom Fifa appointed to look into allegations of wrongdoing which has surrounded the bidding process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. 

Qatar, which is a huge supplier of gas to industrialised countries, said the “stood by the quality and integrity of our bid and will not comment further at this time on allegations that have been, over a period of years, investigated, tested, considered and dismissed.”

Fifa released a 42 page summary of Garcia’s findings, which has been criticised by the author of the original document. In addition, FA chairman Greg Dyke has called for the full findings to be published, something which Fifa president Sepp Blater has rejected.

Blatter says publishing the report would break Fifa’s rules and Swiss law, claiming every person in the report would have to give consent to publication – something that would be practically impossible.