Almajid: FIFA discredited me

2014-11-20 08:11
FIFA (File)

London - A World Cup bidding whistleblower fears her treatment by FIFA will prevent people from coming forward with evidence as world football's governing body grapples with allegations of corruption.

Former Qatar bid worker Phaedra Almajid has complained to FIFA that her right to witness confidentiality in the bidding investigation was breached in an ethics report last week, claiming she was easily identifiable even though she wasn't named.

Almajid, who lives in Washington D.C. and was a member of the bid media team, is also angry that the report by FIFA judge Joachim Eckert said she and Australian whistleblower Bonita Mersiades lacked credibility.

"After what they've done to me and Bonita, who else is going to want to come forward and be a FIFA whistleblower?" Almajid said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.

"I wish what happened to me as a whistleblower never happens again to anyone. I would never wish this on anyone."

Almajid made allegations in 2011 that three FIFA executive committee members were paid $1.5 million to vote for Qatar. She was named in a July 2011 statement in which she retracted her claims of corruption, but says she was coerced to do so by unnamed Qatari officials.

Almajid said about two months after she signed that retraction, American law enforcement officials visited her house because they became aware her safety was in danger.

"The FBI came to me because they knew my security was being threatened and to protect me," Almajid said from Washington. She did not give details of the threats.

"The FBI wanted me to get in contact with the Qataris so that they could admit the fact there was a deal between me and them," she added. "They recorded me speaking to a senior official from Qatar. The senior official admitted there was a deal for (retracting) the affidavit and they would provide a letter saying they wouldn't sue me."

Supervisory Special Agent Martin Feely of the FBI's New York office did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Qatar has always denied any wrongdoing in bringing the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time by winning the 2010 vote.

Almajid said she remains concerned about her safety.

"Being a whistleblower has changed my life and my kids' lives. I will be looking over my shoulder until 2022 is over," she said.

Though not named by Eckert, Almajid was easily identified in a section covering Qatar titled "Role and Relevance of a "Whistleblower" based on her 2011 statements.

Eckert, who assessed evidence from FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia, concluded in his 42-page report that the whistleblower "altered evidence" to support the allegations so had not "relied on any information or material."

"He discredited me and breached the confidentiality agreement we had," she said. She added: "This has cost me dearly (but) I am ready to keep fighting for the truth to be known and for what happened to me not to happen to anyone else."

Read more on:    fifa  |  soccer

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