x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Collusion charges unlikely for Qatar in note-passing scandal

Qatar's World Cup bid is likely to escape any action from Fifa's ethics committee despite the bidding process for the World Cup coming under scrutiny again.

Qatar's World Cup bid is likely to escape any action from Fifa's ethics committee despite the bidding process for the World Cup coming under scrutiny again after confirmation of a notorious note passed between two executive members.

At the last Fifa executive committee meeting, the Spanish member, Angel Villar Llona, passed the note to his colleague Mohammed bin Hammam, from Qatar.

The existence of the note has been rumoured for some time and it has been confirmed that it said: "Congratulations, vamos a ganar" which translates as "We are going to win".

The remark could be taken as Villar Llona suggesting Spain were on course to win the 2018 World Cup race and Qatar the 2022 tournament.

Chuck Blazer, the USA's Fifa executive committee member who saw the note, believes, however, that it related to Villar Llona being confident of escaping sanctions from Fifa's ethics committee over allegations of collusion, which is banned under bidding rules.

Blazer told Press Association Sport: "It is more likely the note referred to the subject that the previous conversation had been about.

"That discussion had been about the ethics committee and the fact that nobody had provided any hard evidence [of collusion]."

The note was passed by Villar Llona during the Fifa executive meeting on October 29 in Zurich.

Blazer said he was surprised by the behaviour.

"I don't think it was the time or place," he said. "I think Mohammed was slightly embarrassed. It's the type of thing that shouldn't have happened but nothing more than that."

Spain/Portugal are bidding against England, Russia and Holland/Belgium for 2018.

The note was also seen by another Fifa executive member, Michel D'Hooghe, from Belgium. Both D'Hooghe and Blazer speak Spanish and it is understood bin Hammam actually asked Blazer to translate the Spanish phrase; the word 'Congratulations' was in English.

Blazer and D'Hooghe both represent countries who are also bidding for the World Cups.

The content of the note indicates that Spain/Portugal and Qatar's World Cup bids will escape any action from Fifa's ethics committee over allegations of collusion.