Sony urges action on Qatar claims

Hillingdon Times: Sony is calling for a probe over the 2022 World Cup bidding process Sony is calling for a probe over the 2022 World Cup bidding process

One of the World Cup's main sponsors has urged Fifa to properly investigate allegations of corruption being involved in Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 tournament.

Electrical goods manufacturer Sony, which is one of six businesses listed as a Fifa 'partner', putting it into the highest category of World Cup backers, has stated that football's international governing body must ensure it abides by "its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play".

Political pressure in the UK has also continued to grow, with Labour leader Ed Miliband the latest high-profile figure to suggest the bid for the 2022 competition should be re-run if the allegations are verified.

The Sunday Times has reported it has received ''hundreds of millions'' of documents which it claims reveal that disgraced former Fifaexecutive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam had made payments to football officials in return for votes for Qatar.

Fifa's chief investigator Michael Garcia is assessing the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and has said that the process will conclude by tomorrow. The American lawyer says he will submit a report in mid-July.

Qatar's bid committee has said it "upheld the highest standard of ethics and integrity" during the bidding process for the 2022 tournament.

One week on from its initial report, the Sunday Times has published further allegations regarding Bin Hammam, including claims surrounding various business meetings.

Sony told the newspaper: "As a Fifa partner, we expect these allegations to be investigated appropriately.

"We continue to expect Fifa to adhere to its principles of integrity, ethics and fair play across all aspects of its operations."

Following the latest reports surrounding Qatar 2022, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said on Twitter: "Never ignoring media reports on ethics allegations in football. But let the Ethics Committee work!"

Bin Hammam was banned from football for life by Fifa in December 2012 over ''conflicts of interest'' while president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Labour's Mr Miliband said there will be an "overwhelming case" for the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup to be reopened if the allegations are proven.

He tweeted: "(The) Sunday Times has uncovered startling evidence that the decision to make Qatar the host for the World Cup may have been corrupted.

"If the allegations against Qatar are verified, there will be an overwhelming case for re-opening the bidding process."

Foreign Secretary William Hague said it is very important there is "international confidence" in sporting bodies and in decisions on where major sporting events are held.

He told Murnaghan on Sky News: "We will have to see the results of the Fifa investigation. I don't think we should get ahead of that.

"There have been some very serious allegations and it's important they are looked into in a very transparent way that commands everybody's confidence.

"But we will have to see also this week the result of that investigation before we leap to judgment on this."

Former Conservative sports minister David Mellor said he did not believe Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup.

He told Sky News only "root and branch reform" of Fifa would put world football back on track.

Mr Mellor said: "What is quite clear is this World Cup should never have been awarded to Qatar and can never be played in Qatar and the only issue is how soon will the whole thing can be pulled."

He added: "This thing will not go ahead. Mystic Mellor, I predict it won't go ahead. It cannot go ahead.

"It's impossible to stage a World Cup in a tiny place like Qatar with the temperature, social concern, all the stuff I've already said."

Another World Cup sponsor, Adidas said it was concerned about corruption allegations.

"The negative tenor of the public debate around Fifa at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners," the German company said in a statement, reported by the Associated Press.

The World Cup ball provider said it is "confident that the matter is being dealt with as a priority" by Fifa's ethics committee.

Sponsors rarely comment on Fifa issues, and Adidas is the longest-standing World Cup partner.

Adidas joined Fifa for the 1970 World Cup and recently renewed for four more tournaments until 2030.

"Adidas enjoys a long-term and successful partnership with Fifa that we are looking forward to continue," the firm said.

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