France says acquisition of Brazilian football player Neymar is a play by Qatar to influence diplomacy through sports — Qatar must still answer on terrorism

Move by PSG to recruit Brazilian football player Neymar is a play by Qatar to influence diplomacy through sports, says France

Image Credit: AFP
A protester holds a placard which translates “Qatar buys everything, some players and some terrorism”, as a vehicle transporting Neymar arrives at a hotel in Paris, on Friday.

Published: 22:57 August 4, 2017Gulf News

Gulf News

Neymar’s record transfer to soccer team Paris Saint-Germain doesn’t mean Qatar, which owns the club, is off the hook from shedding light on possible terrorism financing, France’s government spokesman said.

 

 

The move by PSG to recruit Brazilian football player Neymar Da Silva Santos Jr is a play by Qatar to influence diplomacy through sports, French government spokesman Christophe Castaner said in an LCI television interview after the soccer team’s announcement. Qatar must still answer on terrorism and any role it may or may not play in financing it, he said.

“It’s essential that Qatar sheds full transparency on subjects like the financing of terrorism,”  Castaner said. “We are allowed to ask questions. France is favorable to dialogue.”

The 25 year-old Neymar, who bids farewell to Spain’s FC Barcelona, struck a deal that is said to reach as much as $600 million, including wages and add-ons, for a five-year contract – a record.

The move comes amid global tensions over Qatar, after the Arab quartet in June cut ties with Qatar for sponsoring terrorism.

Former French president Sarkozy may have taken bribes in Qatar Fifa bid

Sarkozy accepts a gift from the then-Qatari Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, during a visit to Doha in 2008.

Nicolas Sarkozy is set to be embroiled in the criminal investigation into Qatar’s World Cup bid amid suggestions he may have benefited from multi-million-pound business deals linked to the Gulf state.

Accoring to the Daily Telegraph, French investigators are examining whether France’s former president may have received funds from transactions negotiated around the time of the 2022 bid, including from the sale of Paris Saint-Germain football club to Qatar.

Qatar is facing a series of international criminal inquiries into its successful World Cup bid amid claims that huge bribes were paid to secure support.

France emerged as one of the key backers of the Qatari bid and Sepp Blatter, the former head of Fifa, has claimed that Sarkozy was a central figure in ensuring that the plan was supported by Paris and the other European nations whose representatives took part in the vote in 2010.

Qatar, where daytime temperatures can reach 104F (40C), was an unlikely candidate to host the World Cup.

Following the announcement of its successful candidacy the tiny state faced claims that it had “been pushing money around”, and further disclosures and allegations have followed about incentives offered to Fifa executive committee members in return for their votes.

In June, Fifa published an internal report by Michael Garcia, an American lawyer, into the bidding process, which raised further questions about the country’s campaign.

A source close to the French inquiries said that officers were examining several deals, which also include the purchase of a stake in a French utility firm by Qatari Diar, the state-owned investment company.

The Telegraph understands that prosecutors are also examining deals overseen by Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad, a Qatari businessman. One of the deals that prosecutors are examining is the sale of Veolia, the French waste company, in which Qatari Diar, which was run by Al Saad, bought a 5 per cent stake in April 2010. Investigators are attempting to trace 182 million euros (164 million pounds) which they believe “may have been siphoned off on the sidelines” in relation to the Veolia deal.

Sources close to the inquiry have said that prosecutors suspect that some of these funds may have been used to make payments to officials connected to the World Cup. As part of the inquiry, officers visited Cyprus in an attempt to locate funds associated with the Veolia deal. Mr Sarkozy is known to be close to several current and former Veolia executives and as such, prosecutors are likely to be examining whether he may have been offered or received any funds.

Another part of the investigation centres around a meeting that took place between Sarkozy, Platini, and Qatari officials 10 days before the vote. The meeting at the Elysee Palace is said to be where Qatar agreed to buy PSG, another deal being examined by French investigators.

The PSG deal is being investigated as the club’s 198 million pounds bid to sign Barcelona’s Brazilian forward Neymar was accepted earlier this week, with a record-breaking five-year deal amounting to some 400 million pounds.

According to the daily Telegraph’s Paul Hayward, Neymar’s transfer less about football and more about politics.

Imports to the 2022 World Cup host nation are down 40 per cent after four Arab neighbours severed air, sea and land connections with the country.

Breaking up Barca’s magical MSN front-line (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) would solve Qatar’s imports plunge at a stroke, even if Neymar would be stationed in Paris.

It would also complete the most political transfer in football history. This is the geopolitical backdrop to Qatar’s desperate quest for long-term relevance, Hayward says.

Aside from growing furore in Europe over Qatar’s “buying up” of European brands and businesses, Doha is separately facing fierce criticism from neighbouring countries over its alleged support for terrorist groups and Iran.

Last month, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain severed diplomatic ties with Qatar.

The four countries have also placed on lists of terrorism dozens of people and groups associated with Qatar.

The US said on Thursday it would be sending a diplomat and a retired general to the region in a new attempt to help defuse the crisis.

Tim Lenderking, deputy assistant secretary for Arabian Gulf Affairs in the Near East Bureau, and Retired General Anthony Zinni are expected to arrive in the Arabian Gulf this week.

Mediation efforts, led by Kuwaiti Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, so far, have not succeeded in overcoming the gap between the two sides.

Zinni, 74, is a retired United States Marine Corps general and a former Commander-in-Chief of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM).

http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/qatar/qatar-crisis/neymar-or-not-france-says-qatar-must-answer-on-financing-terror-1.2068859

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One Response to “France says acquisition of Brazilian football player Neymar is a play by Qatar to influence diplomacy through sports — Qatar must still answer on terrorism”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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