England’s World Cup hotel was built by a Qatari government agency accused of funding Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria.
Sportsmail has learned that the construction of the Tivoli Souq Al-Wakra hotel was bankrolled by Qatar’s Private Engineering Office (PEO). The PEO was named in a High Court case last year as the alleged source of a secret money laundering operation to send hundreds of millions of dollars to jihadists.
An FA delegation visited the Souq Al-Wakra last month and endorsed Gareth Southgate’s decision to base his squad at the five-star beach resort for the duration of their World Cup campaign later this year, as revealed by Sportsmail on Friday.
Gareth Southgate has opted to base his England squad at the Souq Al Wakra Hotel (above) which was built by a Qatari government agency accused of funding Al-Qaeda terrorists
Nusra Front jihadists (pictured above) are alleged to have benefited from laundered money
The hotel is a picturesque setting and its courtyard has palm trees surrounding fountains
Although the FA’s selection still has to be ratified by FIFA after the World Cup draw in April, that is regarded as a formality.
FA sources have pointed out that they are limited to hotels sourced by FIFA, who produce a list of bases for the 32 tournament qualifiers to pick from.
The Souq Al-Wakra hotel was built in 2015 specifically for the World Cup, with documents seen by Sportsmail showing that the tender for its construction was awarded to design and building company Generic Engineering Technologies (GET).
Photographs of the hotel can be seen in the ‘projects’ section of the GET website, with other documents showing that the build was a Qatari government contract.
The GET project manager was Nader Haddad, whose online c.v. lists PEO as the ultimate client. In addition, an electrical engineering subcontractor called Arena Engineering Consultants also state on their website that they were working for PEO.
Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (left), pictured alongside FIFA president Gianni Infantino, was claimed to have given direct orders to PEO
An FA delegation visited the hotel last month and endorsed Gareth Southgate’s decision
A High Court lawsuit launched last June accused the PEO of funnelling money to Al-Qaeda through artificially inflated construction contracts in Syria in a conspiracy masterminded by the Qatari government and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunni Islamist organisation.
The conspiracy was driven ‘by high-ranking members of the Qatari ruling elite’ and provided funds to ‘actively support and facilitate’ Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists including the jihadist Nusra Front in the Syrian civil war, the High Court claim alleges. The PEO was central to the operation according to the High Court claim, receiving orders direct from Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.
The Qatari government and all the defendants, who include former Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, have categorically denied the allegations, with Al-Thani’s representatives branding them baseless. Neither the FA or FIFA would comment on an ongoing court case.
The High Court claims against companies involved in the World Cup construction projects will lead to even more scrutiny of FIFA’s decision to award the tournament to Qatar. Of the eight World Cup stadiums, seven have been built from scratch, leading to questions over the treatment of workers and the source of the funds.
The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool for the England players to use this year
The Qatari government and all the defendants in the High Court case have categorically denied the allegations
The luxury five-star beach resort was bankrolled by Qatar’s Private Engineering Office (PEO)
The FA have so far refused to condemn the tournament hosts for human rights abuses
Now the FA have been unwittingly dragged into the controversy. The governing body were already facing criticism for forging close links with Qatar ahead of the World Cup. The FA also refused to condemn the tournament hosts for human rights abuses including the mistreatment of migrant workers, imprisonment of dissident journalists and punishment of homosexuality.
In 2018 the FA signed a memorandum of understanding with the Qatar FA in which they committed to sharing ideas about youth development, although discussions over arranging a series of age-group friendlies did not progress.
Whereas other teams, including Germany and Holland, have spoken out against Qatar being awarded the tournament, England’s players have yet to do so.
Defender Conor Coady recently revealed he and the rest of the squad would discuss the best way to ‘use their platform’ to highlight the human rights issues in Qatar ahead of the World Cup.
‘One of the incredible things that has come out of this group is that people try and make a difference all the time;, he said.
‘That is constantly happening in this squad, people trying to use their platform to make a difference. So if there is any way that players can help in different situations, I’m sure that us as players and us within the England setup will be the first to try and do that.’