French authorities have opened a corruption investigation into the circumstances that led to Qatar being awarded the 2022 World Cup.
The investigation, which will be led by a judge, follows a three-year operation by prosecutors specializing in financial crimes into the decision in December 2010. More than half of the 22 members of FIFA’s executive committee who voted have since been either accused of corruption or prosecuted for it.
French investigators have particularly focused on the case because of a meeting that took place at the Élysée Palace, the official residence of France’s president, a month before the vote. It was there that Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president at the time, and two close aides held a lunch with Michel Platini, a former head of European soccer and an influential voter in the choice of World Cup venues, and with Qatar’s prime minister at the time.
Platini claims he was shocked to see Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who is now Qatar’s emir, in the room, and had attended only to inform Sarkozy that he had decided to pick Qatar to host the soccer tournament.
A spokeswoman for France’s financial crimes prosecutor confirmed the investigation, first reported by the French investigative news website Mediapart, but declined to comment further, citing secrecy rules.
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