FIFA whistleblower Phaedra Al-Majid will “look over my shoulder for the rest of my life” she said, after providing testimony that led to a two-year corruption investigation into Qatar’s bid for the 2022 World Cup. A former member of Qatar’s World Cup media team, she accused Qatari officials in 2011 of attempting to bribe top FIFA officials to secure votes for the nation’s World Cup bids. She later said that her allegations were false.
Al-Majid now tells the BBC that Qatari officials forced her to retract her corruption allegations. “I had no more legal representation," she said. "When the Qataris approached me, I was alone. I’m also a single mother of two children, one of whom is severely autistic and severely disabled."
Later, Al-Majid was approached by FBI officials, who asked her if she was coerced into a retraction. She agreed to help American investigators by meeting with a top Qatari soccer official.
“So when I talked to the official – and the FBI are recording this – he did admit that there was a deal for the affidavit, that I would basically say that they had done no wrongdoing,” she said.
Al-Majid disclosed her knowledge to Michael Garcia, the FIFA ethics prosecutor who led the investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments. Her testimony was given under condition of anonymity, but her name was published in FIFA ethics committee judge Hans-Joachim Eckert’s report on Garcia’s findings, ESPN FC reports. The FIFA whistleblower has filed a formal complaint against Eckert’s report.
Eckert cleared Qatar of wrongdoing that could have reopened bidding on the 2022 World Cup, citing a lack of sufficient evidence. Garcia publicly admonished Eckert’s decision, stating that it “contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts,” and announced his intent to appeal.
Qatar has repeatedly denied the corruption allegations and maintains that it did nothing wrong in securing hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup. “We stand by the quality and integrity of our bid and will not comment further at this time on allegations that have been, over a period of years, investigated, tested, considered and dismissed,” Qatar’s 2022 Supreme Committee said in a statement.