(Reuters) - FIFA executive committee member Michel D‘Hooghe has been cleared of any wrongdoing by an ethics committee investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
FIFA said its ethics committee’s judgment chamber had found that “there is insufficient evidence to suggest that Dr D’Hooghe violated any provisions of the FIFA Code of Ethics.”
The Belgian, who has denied any wrongdoing, has been an executive committee member since 1988 and is also head of FIFA’s medical committee. The 2018 World Cup was awarded to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar in the same vote in December 2010.
Regarding an allegation that D‘Hooghe received a painting from the Russian bid, FIFA’s ethics committee said it was “satisfied that the painting has no commercial value, as confirmed by two appraisals.”
It said the painting “was offered as a friendly gesture by Mr Vyacheslav Koloskov, a friend of Dr D’Hooghe.”
The ethics committee also dismissed an allegation that D‘Hooghe accepted a trip paid for by a bidding nation.
“The air travel and other expenses for the trip were in fact covered by FIFA as it was related to Dr D’Hooghe’s official function as chairman of the FIFA Medical Committee,” the statement said.
As far as allegation that D‘Hooghe helped secure a business opportunity in Qatar for the son of a close friend, the investigation found “insufficient evidence to prove that Dr D’Hooghe was in any way involved in these efforts.”
There was also “no concrete evidence” on the fourth allegation, that a relative of D‘Hooghe’s was offered employment in Qatar shortly after the vote.
“Dr D’Hooghe had no involvement in the discussions leading up to the offer of employment and that there is no concrete evidence indicating that Dr D’Hooghe’s vote was influenced by this relative’s decision to accept employment in Qatar,” FIFA said.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Turin, editing by Ed Osmond