Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president, held a secret meeting in November 2010 which influenced the decision by soccer's governing body to award the 2022 football World Cup to Qatar, it was alleged yesterday.

In an investigation headlined Qatargate, magazine France Football said acts of collusion and corruption shaped the Fifa decision to award the 2022 competition to the Gulf state.

The magazine listed a secret meeting called by President Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace on November 23, 2010. Ten days later Qatar was chosen by Fifa to host the World Cup in June-July 2022.

Sarkozy's guests included the Crown Prince of Qatar, Tamin bin Haman al-Thani, Michel Platini, president of the European Football Association, and a representative of the investment fund which owned the then struggling French football club, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).


France Football said Platini, a star of the France team of the 1980s, came under pressure to switch his vote from the United States to Qatar. In exchange, the magazine alleged, the Qataris discussed the possibility they would buy Paris Saint-Germain and create a new TV sports channel in France to compete with Canal Plus.

Platini has admitted before that Sarkozy asked him to switch his vote. Yesterday, he denied this was part of a deal involving PSG. Mr Sarkozy's office did not comment on the story yesterday.

- Independent