US prosecutors investigating award of 2019 World Athletics Championships to Qatar

Qatar is under the spotlight over the the awarding of the 2019 World Athletics Championships to Doha
Updated 01 February 2018

US prosecutors investigating award of 2019 World Athletics Championships to Qatar

LONDON: Qatar is once again under the sporting spotlight after it emerged US prosecutors have widened their investigation into global sports corruption to include the Gulf state’s winning the right to host next year’s World Athletics Championships.
The New York Times reported that as part of the probe the Justice Department is looking at possible racketeering, money laundering and fraud charges related to the event, set to be held in Doha in September and October 2019.
The investigation is being conducted by the US Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, which has previously investigated FIFA and systematic doping in Russia.
A spokesman for the US Attorney’s office declined to comment on the report.
The office issued a number of subpoenas in January, solicited documents, testimony and financial records dating to 2013, the New York Times reported.
Of particular interest to prosecutors is the awarding of the World Athletics Champions to Doha and the 2021 event in Eugene, Oregon — a place with very close ties to global sportswear brand Nike.
Those summoned could appear as soon as this week.
It is not just in the US that those two competitions have drawn a huge amount of suspicion. In France the national prosecutor has been investigating the IAAF, the governing body of athletics, and its choices of Doha and Eugene. And last June the BBC reported that the FBI was investigating Eugene’s selection which was secured without a bidding process.
The IAAF, like FIFA, has not escaped its fair share of controversy over the past few years. Lamine Diack, who ran the international track federation for 16 years up until 2015, and served as a longtime member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has been detained in France since November 2015, accused of accepting bribes for covering up the doping violations of Russian athletes.
This is not the first time Qatar has been the subject of corruption allegations in athletics. In 2014 The Guardian reported that Diack’s son, Papa Massate Diack, reportedly asked for $5 million from the country when it was bidding to host the 2017 World Athletics Championships.
Connections to Diack and his son led the Brazilian authorities to arrest Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the head of Brazil’s Olympic committee, last year amid suspicions that Rio de Janeiro’s successful bid to stage the 2016 Summer Games was helped by bribes paid to members of the IOC.
Diack has been replaced as IAAF boss by Sebastian Coe — the former double 1500m Olympic champion. He has faced conflict of interest allegations after an email emerged suggesting he lobbied his predecessor over the hosting of the 2021 World Championships to Eugene — at the time he was paid $100,000 by Nike.
There has been much focus on Qatar and its relationship with sports governing bodies since it surprisingly won the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Since that decision in 2010, allegations have emerged that FIFA officials took bribes in order to vote for the Gulf state, and that then FIFA boss Sepp Blatter knew Qatar would win before the envelope announcing the winner was opened.


Man United, Inter favorites for Europa League finale

Updated 10 August 2020

Man United, Inter favorites for Europa League finale

  • All games from the quarterfinals onwards will be played as one-off ties across four venues

PARIS: Manchester United, Inter Milan and Sevilla headline a quintet of former champions traveling to Germany for a remodeled eight-team straight knockout tournament that will crown the winner of a Europa League campaign heavily disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

All games from the quarterfinals onwards in this season’s competition will be played behind closed doors as one-off ties across four venues — Cologne, Duisburg, Dusseldorf and Gelsenkirchen — following a five-month interruption.

While a Champions League berth still awaits the victor of the final in Cologne on Aug. 21, much has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak that brought European football to a standstill in March.

“There are rules and regulations on the bubble that’s going to travel. We’ve got to stick together, stay together in and around the hotel and the training ground,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of the strict health protocols clubs must respect.

Players and staff will undergo virus testing before departing for Germany and again on the eve of a match once arriving, a process repeated for each subsequent game in the final tournament.

UEFA has advised teams to travel on charter flights and minimize contact with the general public, strongly recommending the use of exclusive hotels — to which players will largely be confined — in order to avoid potential cross-contamination.

Masks will not be required for substitutes and coaching staff but they must maintain social distancing when seated, with players instructed to limit contact as much as possible when warming up. Match balls will be disinfected before kickoff and at half-time.

United, the 2017 winners, face FC Copenhagen in Monday’s quarterfinal in Cologne while Serie A runners-up Inter take on Bayer Leverkusen in a clash of former UEFA Cup champions at Dusseldorf Arena.

England forward Jesse Lingard, who played in United’s 2-0 win over Ajax in the final three years ago, is confident the team can capture the title for a second time.

“We can’t wait to get there and play this game now. 100 per cent I want to win it again,” Lingard told MUTV.

“Lifting a trophy is a special feeling you can’t really explain and winning it before you take that confidence forward. We have got a mixture of youth and experience in the squad and for the young lads to win their first trophy, it will be perfect for them.”

Should United advance to the last four they would face either Sevilla — who have won the Europa League and its precursor, the UEFA Cup, a record five times — or Premier League rivals Wolves in Cologne
on Aug. 16.

Wolves are through to a first European quarterfinal since 1972 but were punished by UEFA in midweek after failing to comply with Financial Fair Play requirements. They take on Sevilla in Duisburg on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Inter beat Getafe 2-0 in a single-leg last-16 tie Wednesday in Gelsenkirchen, and Antonio Conte’s men harbor hopes of adding to the three UEFA Cups won in the 1990s.

“This is an important competition. It doesn’t matter where and under what conditions you’re playing, you should only be focused on the upcoming match,” midfielder Christian Eriksen told Inter TV.

“It’s certainly not as fun playing without fans, the atmosphere isn’t there. We’ll try to excite them while they’re watching on TV, and we’re hoping that we’ll be able to embrace our supporters again soon.”

Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, winners of the 2009 edition, play Swiss outfit Basel in the other quarterfinal in Gelsenkirchen.

This year’s Europa League final was initially due to be played in the Polish city of Gdansk in late May before the health crisis forced a change of plans.

Gdansk will host next year’s final instead.