Garcia report: Qatar government manipulated votes for 2022 World Cup bid

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Michael J. Garcia’s report, titled “Report On The Inquiry Into The 2018/2022 Fifa World Cup Bidding Process“ reveals what appears to be a link involving the sale of liquified natural gas in exchange for the Thailand Football Association's support of Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam's 2011 bid to be elected FIFA president, and for the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid.

Bin Hammam dropped out of the presidential race in May 2011 amid bribery allegations, and has since been banned from FIFA for life.

The report notes an inordinately close relationship between the Qatari government and the Qatar 2022 bid, with the government sending out a notice requiring "'[a]ll ministries, governmental institutions, organizations and public foundations' to 'cooperate' with Qatar's bid committee, including by assisting the committee in 'overcoming' any 'obstacle[s].'" While the investigation did not find credible allegations of direct governmental influence, there were instances of state-controlled businesses being involved in the bid process.

The report spends considerable time exploring the conduct of Joe Sim, a supposed "Chief Advisor" to Thai FA president and FIFA Executive Committee member Worawi Makudi. While Sim's official title is not necessarily clear, the report says he was close with Makudi and often accompanied him to official Thai FA meetings where he was introduced as an advisor. The investigation strongly suggests that Sim was involved in negotiations with Qatargas, a state-controlled company, to work out a deal for a reduced price for liquified natural gas (LNG), in exchange for the Thai FA supporting Qatar's bid.

Sim also bcc'd an assistant for Bin Hammam on the email.

Sim later told Garcia's investigators that the email was meant to discuss potential sponsorship of the Thai National Football Team by Qatargas, and had nothing to do with LNG sales. But later reports indicated that Thailand's state-run energy company, PTT Public Company Limited, was looking to re-negotiate a contract with Qatargas.

As footnote 1081 notes, just three months before Sim sent his email, PTT was attempting to renegotiate a fixed deal because of a decline in liquified natural gas prices. PTT wanted to use the current rate, rather than the previously agreed upon price. Seven months after the World Cup was awarded to Qatar, Qatar delivered LNG to PPT at the current price.

Because of this, and several inconsistencies between the principal parties involved, the investigation concluded "on its face, Mr. Sim's August 2010 email to the Chairman of Qatar Petroleum, blind-copied to Mr. Bin Hammam's assistant, gives the appearance that a LNG contract was being negotiated through football channels," and suggested that further investigation into Makudi was needed, given his role as Thai FA president and FIFA executive committee voting member.

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