LONDON - Qatar faced growing pressure over its hosting of the 2022 World Cup Sunday after fresh allegations over the role disgraced former top football official Mohammed bin Hammam played in its bid.
Last week, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper said it had obtained millions of emails, documents and bank transfers showing that bin Hammam paid over $5 million from slush funds to win support in the bidding process.
Now it has published new stories based on the same information which claim to detail bin Hammam's moves in the weeks before the ballot as he sought to boost Qatar's bid.
The allegations come the day before FIFA completes its probe into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, won by Russia and Qatar, chaired by former US attorney Michael Garcia.
One Sunday Times story claimed bin Hammam was invited to visit Russia's then prime minister Vladimir Putin to discuss "bilateral relations in sport" at the end of October 2010.
This was just over a month before Russia and Qatar won the bids.
Another alleged that bin Hammam helped arrange talks on a major gas deal between Thailand and Qatar during a visit to Doha by the president of the Football Association of Thailand, Worawi Makudi, in August 2010, involving one of his advisers.
Worawi was quoted by the Sunday Times as denying that the gas deal came in exchange for supporting Qatar to host the World Cup.
He also denied receiving a personal "concession" from the deal.
Bin Hammam was formerly on FIFA's executive committee but resigned in 2012, shortly before being banned for life from football administration by FIFA's ethics committee.
The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy denies any wrong-doing and says bin Hammam "played no official or unofficial role" in the bid committee.
The choice of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup shocked many observers due to its searing heat in the summer.
FIFA is due to hold its annual congress in Sao Paulo between June 9 and 12, where Blatter is expected to announce his candidacy for a fifth four-year term.
It was also holding a meeting of its executive committee Saturday.
It has not yet commented in detail on the Sunday Times stories.