(Paris) Investigations into the controversial awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar are accelerating in France: the former Tahitian vice-president of FIFA Reynald Temarii has been charged in Paris with corruption, a first in this case with multiple ramifications.

Since 2019, French investigating judges have been investigating the vote of the governing bodies of FIFA in 2010 which, to everyone’s surprise, entrusted the organization of the last soccer world cup to Qatar. Separate investigations were also carried out in Switzerland and the United States.

As part of the French investigation, Reynald Temarii, who was also president of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), was indicted – equivalent to an indictment in France – on Monday for “passive private corruption”, learned Saturday AFP with the national financial prosecutor’s office.

Contacted by AFP, Mr. Temarii and his lawyer declined to comment.

French anti-corruption magistrates are mainly looking to find out whether the 2010 vote in favor of Qatar expressed by Michel Platini, former glory of French soccer and at the time boss of UEFA, was obtained in exchange for counterparties.

At the heart of the suspicions is a lunch held in 2010 between Nicolas Sarkozy, then President of the French Republic, Mr. Platini and two senior Qatari leaders.

In June 2019, Mr. Platini, who denies any offense, was taken into police custody but no charges have yet been brought against him.

At the end of November 2021, former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, who calls the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar an “error”, was heard as a witness in the investigation.

Over the course of the investigations, the French magistrates were also interested in Mr. Temarii’s about-face on the eve of the decision of the International Football Federation (FIFA) to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Suspended for one year by FIFA on November 17, 2010 for breaching the code of ethics following revelations from the Sunday Times, Reynald Temarii could no longer sit on the organization’s executive committee and therefore had no right to take part. to the vote of December 2, 2010.

The OFC therefore had to appoint a replacement who would have given their vote to Australia in the first round of voting and then, in the event of failure, to the United States, Qatar’s main rivals.

However, Mr. Temarii appealed against his suspension on the night of November 30 to December 1 when he had previously announced that he accepted the sanction and that he did not have the motivations of the ethics committee allowing him this appeal.

By appealing, in accordance with FIFA statutes, he had effectively deprived the OFC of a representative during the vote. On December 2, 2010, Qatar won ahead of the United States, yet favorites.

In October 2022, during a press conference, Mr. Temarii said he was the victim of a scam. He said he had appealed on the basis of a confidential note that the Swiss public prosecutor’s office was planning to prosecute him for corruption, which was false, and that a decision not to appeal was tantamount “to an admission of guilt and would compromise his defence.”

According to him, these were therefore false elements intended to push him to appeal.

Just like an all-expenses-paid trip to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) between his sanction and the FIFA vote, to meet Mr. Bin Hammam.

His indictment was welcomed by the French anti-corruption association Anticor. “We are rather satisfied to see that the file is progressing and that steps are beginning to be taken”, reacted to AFP Me Jean-Baptiste Soufron, the association’s lawyer, civil party in the file.