06/04/2014, 00.00
Send to a friend

Qatar 2022: bribery and corruption hits the Middle East's first World Cup

The Sunday Times reports a money scandal involving the World Cup in Qatar with former FIFA vice president Bin Hamman, from Qatar, as the main culprit. UEFA president Platini is also touched with French and German interests involved. A new investigation could lead to a new vote.

Doha (AsiaNews) - The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is at the centre of a scandal involving sports and finance. An investigation is currently underway that could see Qatar lose the right to host the cup and a new vote.

The complex story involving football's highest officials, business interests and national pride began in 2010 when the small Arab nation won the right to host the tournament against a number of competitors.

The latter include the United States, England and Australia. In the first case, former President Bill Clinton who was the driving force behind the US bid, was so angry, informed sources said, that he caused damages in his hotel room in Switzerland.

England and Australia are instead connected to Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born publishing magnate who owns the Sunday Times, which broke the story.

According to the newspaper, a plot was behind the 2022 World Cup, already controversial because of the expected high temperatures (50º centigrade) and poor labour conditions, including deaths, associated with the construction of stadiums and related infrastructure.

The paper's accusations are based on e-mails, documents and wiretapping that show corruption, kickbacks and money going into the pockets of senior executives from FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), who picked the venue for the 2022 World Cup.

Former FIFA vice president Mohammed Bin Hammam, the Qatari member of the association and a former president of the Asian Football Confederation from 2002 to 2011, was allegedly behind the bribery. As a result of this he was kicked out and banned for life.

Supposedly, he doled out more than US$ 5 million in cash and gifts to influence officials before tournament voting, particularly from Asia and Africa, thereby ensuring a favourable vote for his country.

According to reports, the Qatari football official paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to the presidents of the federations and a super bribe of £720,000 to Jack Warner, former president of Conceal (North and Central American Confederation).

The serious allegations, which also touch Russia's successful bid for 2018, are likely to send shockwaves throughout FIFA with England and Australia ready in the wings to meet the challenge of organising the event in case it is moved.

UEFA president Michel Platini, a former footballer for France and Juventus, has admitted holding a secret meeting in Switzerland with the disgraced football official Mohamed Bin Hammam, shortly before voting for Qatar.

At the working lunch, Mr Bin Hammam supposedly asked the UEFA president to stand against Sepp Blatter in the 2011 FIFA presidency, but Mr Platini refused.

However, the ties between France and Qatar, at least in sports, go beyond the Platini-Hamman meeting.

In 2012, state-owned Qatar Sports Investments bought Paris Saint-Germain, former French President Sarkozy's favourite team.

Mr Platini's son Laurent became the chief executive of Burrda, a Qatar owned sports company.

Recently, FIFA president Sepp Blatter (pictured) said that choosing the Arab country was a mistake because it is "too hot in summer" even though FIFA's "executive committee with quite a big majority decided all the same".

He also indicated that political pressure from France and Germany had played a part. In fact, "big French and German companies work in Qatar". However, officials from the two nations rejected the accusations.

Doubts were raised about the choice of Qatar from the start given the Arab nation's limited football history.

Bookmakers are now offering bets on the outcome of the investigation and on whether the World Cup 2022 will remain in Qatar.

FIFA said two days ago that a panel led by former US federal prosecutor Michael Garcia would issue a report in July into the allegations made by the Sunday Times.

Meanwhile, Qatar has threatened to take legal action, claiming the "right" to host the event for itself and the Middle East.

The country's authorities are not particularly concerned about the scandal's economic repercussions - Stadium construction might stop, not so urban train and other infrastructures - as opposed to its impact on the image of a country that is rapidly growing.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
World Cup in Asia amidst cheering monks, bookmakers under arrest and prizes worth a king's ransom
World Cup: Filipino nun waves red card at Qatar for violated rights
16/11/2022 11:35
Over 6,500 migrant workers have died all for 2022 soccer world cup
25/02/2021 10:17
2022 FIFA World Cup: hundreds of migrant workers left without wages for months
13/06/2020 08:00
In Qatar, hundreds of unpaid foreign workers forced to go home
21/09/2019 08:00


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”