altSeptember 21 - Issa Hayatou, the African football powerbroker who has twice denied corruption allegations in the past year, has been handed responsibility by FIFA for running the football tournament at next year's London Olympics despite being under investigation by the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Ethics Commission.

In what will be viewed as a highly contentious choice in some circles, Hayatou has been appointed head of FIFA's Organising Committee for Olympic football tournaments starting with London 2012.

The 65-year-old from Cameroon, a member of the IOC since 2001, has also been appointed to take over FIFA's GOAL project that supports development programmes in poorer nations.

Although Hayatou, President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), was boss of the Organising Committee at last year's World Cup, he is still under investigation by the IOC following claims by a BBC television programme that he received a payment of 100,000 French francs in 1995 from the now defunct marketing company ISL.

Hayatou claimed his conscience was clear and that the money was given to the CAF to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

But IOC President Jacques Rogge referred the allegations to the IOC Ethics Commission which still have to report their findings but could expel the 65-year-old as an IOC member if they find him guilty.

Six months after the Panorama programme, Hayatou again became embroiled in controversy when a British parliamentary inquiry into England's failed 2018 World Cup was told that he  was allegedly  paid $1.5m each to vote for Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid.

Qatar beat the United States by a landslide in the final round of voting for the right to host the 2022 tournament, the biggest ever upset in bidding history.

Hayatou described the corruption claim as "pure invention" while Qatar's Football Association denounced the accusations as "serious and baseless" and said they would "remain unproven because they are false."

An inquiry into the allegations, which first came to light in newspaper reports and were disclosed under Parliamentary privilege, later found there was no evidence whatsoever  to support them while serious allegations made by a whistle-blower regarding Qatar's World Cup bid were subsequently withdrawn.

Yet eyebrows are bound to be raised at the decision to allow Hayatou to run the GOAL programme, set up by Sepp Blatter and regarded as one of his proudest achievements.

Next month Blatter, eager to make a positive statement at the start of his final four-year term as president, announces his eagerly awaited reforms to tackle bribery and corruption.

To add even more spice to the scenario, Hayatou takes over from Mohamed Bin Hammam, banned for life by FIFA for allegedly offering bribes to Caribbean football leaders at the time he was a Presidential candidate yet still persuing an appeals process.

Not only that.

The eight-manGOAL Committee entrusted to Hayatou is understood to include Richard Groden, general secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago football federation and one of those still under investigation by FIFA in the Bin Hammam bribery scandal.



By Andrew Warshaw