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World Cup Corruption Probe Extends to 10-Year-Old Girl With £2 Million in Savings

Apr 19, 2014 5:00 am

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The 10-year-old daughter of a Fifa executive who helped to select World Cup host nations had more than £2 million put into a savings account set up in her name, the Telegraph can disclose.

Antonia Wigand Teixeira, the daughter of the Brazilian representative on the Fifa executive committee, received the money in 2011. Her father, Ricardo, who stepped down from the committee in 2012, has recently moved to Miami after Brazilian police began an investigation into his activities. The disclosure will raise questions about the finances of some Fifa officials who participated in the decision to award Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Michael Garcia, the joint chief investigator of Fifa’s ethics committee, is looking at the bidding process and is understood to be examining business deals connected to several current and former executive committee members.

The decision to award Qatar the World Cup has been controversial. The successful bid team has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing during the bidding process but Fifa has faced repeated calls to rerun the contest as concerns grow over the decision to hold the football competition in a desert state where temperatures hover around 104F (40C).

The money transfer to Mr Teixeira’s daughter, whose account is registered in Rio, is thought to have been made by Sandro Rosell. Mr Teixeira has had a long-standing relationship involving a number of reported business deals with Mr Rosell, who was previously head of Nike Brazil and until early this year was President of Barcelona Football Club.

The payment from Mr Rosell to Antonia was made on June 22 2011, when she was 10 years old. Sources close to the football club said they did not know about the payment. In December 2010, the Catalan club agreed a sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation, which developed into a three-year corporate sponsorship with Qatar Airways.

A statement issued by lawyers acting for the Qatar bid said the payment from Mr Rosell to Mr Teixeira had nothing to do with the country’s bid for the 2022 World Cup and they had not given him any payments to secure Mr Teixeira’s vote. It added that there was “no question” that any payment made to Mr Teixeira, or anyone on his behalf, was connected to the sponsorship of Barcelona football club by the Qatar Foundation or Qatar Airways.

Mr Garcia is investigating Mr Teixeira’s decision to support Qatar’s bid, it emerged this week.

Estadao, a Brazilian newspaper, reported that sources close to Sepp Blatter, the President of Fifa, had said investigators were examining the former executive committee’s support of the Gulf state and scrutinising business deals that had been made before the vote in Switzerland. Mr Garcia is expected to deliver his report later this year.

Mr Teixeira was a member of the Fifa executive committee for 22 years, during which time he faced several corruption scandals. In 2013, a report by Hans–Joachim Eckert, the chairman of the Fifa Adjudicatory Chamber, named Mr Teixeira and two other committee members as having taken bribes from ISL, a company that had been granted exclusive rights to market the World Cup.

The magazine France Football also reported that in the weeks before the 2010 vote, Brazil and Argentina played a friendly match in Qatar and, according to people involved in the organisation of the match, Qatar paid double the usual price charged by the Brazil national side.

Mr Rosell is a successful Catalan businessman. He founded Ailanto Marketing, which received $5.6 million (£3.3 million) from the Brazilian Federation to organise a friendly with Portugal in 2008. Questions have been raised about whether Mr Teixeira could have profited from the deal as documents in Brazil have shown a link between Ailanto and Mr Teixeira’s farm on the outskirts of Rio.

Mr Rosell resigned as president of Barcelona in January after a judge agreed to hear a case against him by one of the club’s members over the alleged misappropriation of funds in a deal that brought a Brazilian footballer to the club.

Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world and invests in many countries. Since the decision in 2010 to award it the 2022 World Cup, it has invested in several countries that have executive committee members. Last month, the Telegraph disclosed that Jack Warner, a former vice-president of Fifa, and his family appeared to have been paid almost $2 million from a Qatari firm linked to the 2022 World Cup bid. Mr Warner appears to have been personally paid $1.2 million by a company controlled by a former Qatari football official shortly after the decision to award the country the tournament.

A spokesman for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organising committee said last month it had strictly adhered to Fifa’s bidding regulations and was unaware of any allegations surrounding business dealings between private individuals.

Mr Teixeira and Mr Rosell did not respond to questions. A source close to Barcelona Football Club said they did not know about the payment to Antonia, but that if payments were made by Mr Rosell to Mr Teixeira’s family, there was no connection to Qatar’s sponsorship deal.

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