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

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Qatar was awarded the World Cup in 2010 in a decision that has been riddled with corruption allegations. (AFP)
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Tim Farron said fans want the beautiful game to not become mired in "bribery and foul play." (AFP)
Updated 13 March 2019
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British MP demands World Cup probe after fans say Qatar should lose tournament 

  • Former leader of the Liberal Democrat party, Tim Farron, was commenting on a survey conducted by UK newspaper The Sunday Times
  • The poll comes after yet more allegations of corruption surrounding the controversial decision to award hosting rights for the 2022 tournament to Qatar

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 FIFA.com. 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."


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.