CAF boss Hayatou slams ‘smear campaign’ over Qatar bid
Sepp Blatter (L) and Issa Hayatou (R) - AFP

Issa Hayatou, head of the African Football Confederation (CAF) and vice president of FIFA, has “categorically” denied allegations in Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that he received gifts and money to support Qatar’s bid for the 2022 World Cup.

The newspaper claimed it had obtained millions of documents which they say show Qatari former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totaling around $5 million to football officials in return for votes for Qatar.

A statement released by CAF said the allegations against Cameroonian Hayatou were “fanciful”, “ridiculous” and formed part of a “smear campaign” against him.

“Issa Hayatou has denied categorically the allegations of corruption published by the UK Sunday Times in its edition of 1st June 2014,” the statement said. “Mr Hayatou will not allow journalists once again to attack his integrity and reputation.”

“Such allegations are meant to discredit not only him as a person but the whole continent.”

Qatari organizers of the 2022 World Cup have “vehemently” denied accusations their successful bid was corrupt, saying Bin Hammam played no “official or unofficial” role in the bid.

FIFA have referred all questions about the newspaper allegations to the independent “Ethics Committee” led by American lawyer Michael Garcia.

Hayatou is also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and was reprimanded by that body in 2011 for receiving 100,000 French francs from FIFA’s scandal-ridden former marketing agency International Sport and Leisure (ISL).

The IOC accepted that he was not member of the Olympic movement at the time of the offence in 1995.

The 67-year-old former athlete, who has held his post as the head of African football since 1987, was also accused by the Sunday Times of corruption relating to the 2022 World Cup vote in 2011.

“Like in 2011, the CAF president is waiting for the famous evidence from the Sunday Times and reserves the right to take legal action against any of those responsible for the smear campaign against him,” the statement concluded.

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