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FIFA says why Qatar whistleblower talks failed

Associated Press
FIFA President Sepp Blatter attends the opening ceremony of a new football stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, Monday, June 6, 2011. Azerbaijan's football federation celebrates its 100th anniversary. (AP Photo)

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter attends the opening ceremony of a new football stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, …

ZURICH (AP) — A whistleblower's demands for witness protection helped wreck talks aimed at hearing alleged evidence that Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid paid $1.5 million in bribes, FIFA said on Tuesday.

The former bid employee's interview at FIFA headquarters had raised the prospect of an official investigation into how Qatar won the five-nation contest to host the 2022 tournament, beating the United States in a final round of voting last December.

"The whistleblower asked for conditions that could not possibly be accepted by FIFA," soccer's governing body said in a statement.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter said last month that the whistleblower agreed to come to Zurich to discuss claims that FIFA voters Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma were paid to support Qatar.

The allegations were revealed by British lawmakers after The Sunday Times newspaper submitted evidence to a parliamentary inquiry.

Blatter said he "anxiously" awaited evidence from the newspaper and its source, which could justify launching an investigation.

The FIFA president said he had wanted the matter resolved before his June 1 election contest against Qatari rival Mohamed bin Hammam. However, the whistleblower never arrived and FIFA declined to refer the case to its ethics committee, which provisionally suspended bin Hammam in a separate process examining allegations he offered bribes to Caribbean voters in the presidential contest.

On Tuesday, FIFA detailed the whistleblower's conditions to open talks, which it "could not agree" to.

"Among others, the problems were that the whistleblower gave no warranty for the accuracy and correctness of the information he/she was providing, asked for the right to destroy the information at any time and that the information he/she provided not be made public," FIFA said.

FIFA also was asked to "cover the costs to indemnify the whistleblower for any breaches of contract he/she would be sued for, for any liabilities and for any potential criminal proceedings related to the agreement, as well as for an unlimited witness protection program."

Qatari officials have denied the allegations and suggested that the whistleblower was "an embittered ex-employee."

Hayatou, the Confederation of African Football president from Cameroon, and Ivory Coast official Anouma, also deny the allegations.

Blatter has suggested that, if new evidence does emerge, Qatar's 2022 bid could be investigated by his proposed "committee of wise men" or a revamped ethics panel.

The FIFA leader was re-elected unopposed last Wednesday and promised to reform FIFA's judicial bodies and improve the organization's battered image.

Bin Hammam denies the presidential election bribery claims and faces a full ethics hearing next month, alongside FIFA vice president Jack Warner from Trinidad and two Caribbean Football Union officials.

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