LONDON (Reuters) - Issa Hayatou, the president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), has denied selling his vote for the 2022 World Cup in an interview with French publication Jeune Afrique.
Hayatou, who is also vice president at world soccer’s scandal-plagued governing body FIFA, and CAF were accused of accepting bribes by a former Qatar bid employee, Phaedra Almajid.
According to documents seen by Reuters, FBI investigators interviewed Almajid, who said she was present when the Qatar bid organization paid $1.5 million to three African members of FIFA’s executive committee to secure their votes for Qatar, which was awarded the hosting rights for the 2022 tournament.
The former employee made a sworn statement recanting her allegations, but later still she told the FBI that representatives of the Qatar bid had pressured her to do so.
“I’ve never seen this woman in my life,” Cameroonian Hayatou was quoted as saying by Jeune Afrique.
“She claims that we met Qatar people in a hotel in Angola. When? Where? She said so first, then she admitted she had lied. A year later, she repeats her accusations. It’s complete nonsense. We have asked her to show evidence. She has not.”
Hayatou also said he was unaware of any wrong-doing in the bidding processes for the 1998 and 2010 tournaments, which both involved Morocco.
When asked whether the 2010 World Cup vote, which involved a run-off between Morocco and South Africa, had been rigged, as reported by Britain’s Sunday Times, he replied: ”Rigged by whom? All I can say is that us, Africans, we drew lots in order not to give the impression that we were favoring one of the candidates.
“There were four of us (on the FIFA executive committee). We decided to give two votes to South Africa, two votes to Morocco. And we drew. Ismail Bhamjee and Amos Adamu got South Africa, Amadou Diakite and I got Morocco. This is our policy.”
Hayatou, who says he has a “clear conscience”, also denied having any knowledge of any attempts by Morocco to buy votes for the 1998 and 2010 tournaments.
“How come I would have known? No one has come to me to tell me,” he said.
Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Mitch Phillips