British MP demands World Cup probe after fans say Qatar should lose tournament 

LONDON: A prominent British MP has called for an investigation into Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup after a poll revealed that more than nine in 10 football fans want to see the tiny Gulf state being stripped of the tournament.

Former leader of the Liberal Democrat party, Tim Farron, was commenting on a survey conducted by UK newspaper The Sunday Times. 

The poll, as of 6:30 p.m. GMT on Wednesday, revealed that 93 percent of the 6,240 people who voted were adamant that Qatar should be shown the red card and the tournament moved elsewhere. The poll runs until Friday 15 March.

Farron said that it should come as no shock to find out that so may fans are furious about where the 2022 sporting spectacle is set to be held. 

“It’s not remotely surprising that so many fans want to see Qatar stripped of the World Cup,” he told Arab News. 

“As fans they want the beautiful game to remain beautiful — not become mired in bribery and foul play,” added Farron, who headed the Liberal Democrats from 2015 to 2017.

“If these allegations remain unresolved, this could seriously damage the reputation of sport’s greatest competition. We need an independent investigation now.”

The poll comes after yet more allegations of corruption surrounding the controversial decision to award hosting rights for the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

It has long been claimed that the Gulf state offered bribes to FIFA officials in its bid to host the 2022 World Cup — and last weekend The Sunday Times reported that Qatar allegedly offered football’s governing body as much as $880 million in secret payments at key stages in its efforts to host the 2022 World Cup.

Leaked files seen by The Sunday Times appear to show that Doha offered FIFA $400 million 21 days before the decision to hold the tournament in the tiny Gulf state was announced

Executives from the Qatari state-run broadcaster Al Jazeera made the offer at the height of campaigning over the tournament, in a clear breach of FIFA’s own anti-bribery rules, the newspaper claimed.

In response to the newspapers’s allegations, a FIFA spokesperson said: “Allegations linked to the FIFA World Cup 2022 bid have already been extensively commented by FIFA, who in June 2017 published the Garcia report in full on Furthermore, please note that FIFA lodged a criminal complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, which is still pending. FIFA is and will continue to cooperate with the authorities.

“Generally speaking and since the implementation of the reforms in 2016, FIFA has consistently improved its governance and compliance standards also when it comes to transparency and fairness of its commercial agreements.”

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