World Cup sponsors raise concerns over Qatar storm

Could Qatar lose the World Cup?
Could Qatar lose the World Cup?

Major sponsors of the World Cup tournament are demanding answers from soccer's governing body, FIFA, following the publication of further bribery allegations involving Qatar's bid to hold the 2022 championships.

The latest allegations, which appeared in the U.K.'s The Sunday Times, linked former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam's bribery campaign to secure the tournament for the State of Qatar itself.

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View of the Khalifa football stadium on January 6, 2013 in Doha, Qatar.
Nadine Rupp | Getty Images

The articles have already prompted sponsors such as Japanese electronics manufacturer Sony to call for an investigation while sportswear firm Adidas has pointed out the "negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners".

Fifa's top six sponsors contribute around $180m a year to Fifa revenues, according to the Financial Times.

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The Supreme Council for Delivery and Legacy, which is overseeing Qatar's preparations for the event, has repeatedly emphasized Bin Hammam "played no official or unofficial role in Qatar's 2022 bid committee". A spokesperson underscored to CNBC the council had no further statement to make when asked late Sunday.

The latest documents appear to point to Bin Hammam helping push a gas deal with Thailand that could only have worked with the consent of the Qatari government. Other claims involve setting up "discrete meetings" and the use of a £1.7 million ($2.85 million) fund to pay off Asian football officials.

Chief ethics investigator Michael Garcia, formerly a US federal prosecutor, is finalizing a report on the 2018 and 2022 bids on the basis of which further action, if warranted, will be taken.

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After dodging reporters, Sepp Blatter wrote in a tweet on Sunday morning "Never ignoring media reports on ethics allegations in football. But let the Ethics Committee work!".

The Lawyer magazine reported on Saturday that the Qatari government had approached Shillings -- famous for high-profile, high settlement libel cases -- for legal advice on the matter. Although calls for a re-vote are increasing in volume, legal ambiguities and a cascade of contractual commitments could mean a swift decision is unlikely.

The football body's executive committee met on Saturday, and the official press release had little to add. "Regarding media allegations of unethical behaviour related to the vote for the 2022 FIFA World Cup host country, the executive reaffirmed its position of letting the Ethics Committee complete its work before making any comment.

A trader at the Qatar Stock Exchange
Yousef Gamal El-Din I CNBC

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It also noted "recent changes by the State of Qatar" on the issue of labor rights but "confirmed that it will continue to monitor this dossier very closely".

Qatar and Dubai stocks, both recently upgraded to emerging market status by index compiler MSCI, came under pressure in early trade on Monday.

The 2022 World Cup has been an important provider of momentum for many companies who not only sought to secure business from Qatar's $200 billion spending spree over the next 10 years, but are also positioning themselves for a broader pickup of activity and confidence in the region.

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Massive construction projects are currently underway in the world's largest liquid natural gas exporter to get the country's infrastructure and ancillary facilities ready for 2022. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts economic growth in Qatar to come in at 5.9 percent this year, the highest in the oil-rich Gulf.

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