Qatar faces fresh World Cup probe after Neymar coup

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy faces criminal investigation over Qatar

The award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar has prompted huge controversy since it was made in 2010

Friday, August 4, 2017

The award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is facing fresh scrutiny in France, with allegations that former president Nicolas Sarkozy took bribes to help the tiny Gulf kingdom secure the tournament.

The allegations will be the subect of a criminal investigation, with French prosecutors saying they were "involved in preliminary enquiries."

Investigators are also looking into another related deal in which Qatar company Qatari Diar bought a 5% stake in Veoliain, a French waste and energy company in 2010.

The allegations provide fresh controversy for Sarkozy, who is already accused of falsifying accounts when campaigning for the presidency in 2012 and of accepting laundered money from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, according to the Daily Mail

Sarkozy has a season ticket for football club Paint Saint Germain and he is known to have encouraged Qataris to buy the club.

The Telegraph reported that the former president might have gained funds from the negotiation of the Qatar bid as well as the sale of PSG.

However Sarkozy's layer Thierry Herzog has denied all allegations about the wrongdoing.

The news also comes just a day after Paris Saint Germain, the French club backed by the Qatari royal family, announced the world-record transfer of Brazilian superstar Neymar.

The former Barcelona player arrives in Paris today having completed a deal worth £200 million, more than double the previous world record of £89 million paid by Manchester United for Paul Pogba last year.

The transfer is seen as a huge publicity coup for Qatar, and a further example of its willingness to spend huge amounts on the pursuit of soft power through football - a strategy clearly evident in its successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.