The Qatar World Cup was bought? No way! Ever since the World Cup in 2022 was awarded to Qatar in late 2010, there have been rumblings and suspicions of corruption in the process. Since then, we have also had reports of human rights abuses with laborers, and plenty of discussion about the heat. It was just a matter of time before the smoking guns began emerging. 12 years is a long time to cover something up before it happens.
The London Sunday Times now comes out with “Plot to Buy the World Cup” (behind paywall), which alleges that £3 million in bribes was paid out to various FIFA officials to secure the vote, and claims to have a cache of millions of documents supporting it.
The only surprising thing about this is the amount of money. Only £3 million in bribes to secure the massive event seems low, at least from the Qatari end, with the power in the country awash in money. It goes to show just how susceptible FIFA was to bribes. Of course, the counterargument is “Why bribe the officials if you know your sales pitch is the best?”
The key figure is Mohamed Bin Hammam, former Asian Football Confederation President, who is reported to be behind the payments. Bin Hammam was banned in 2011 after it was discovered that he was trying to bribe officials in a bid to get elected as FIFA President, so reports of his activities in securing the Qatari vote should not be a surprise.
FIFA Vice President Jim Boyce has come out and said he would support a re-vote if allegations of corruption are proven. FIFA investigator Chief Investigator Michael Garcia is already conducting an investigation into the allegations, and is already set to meet with the 2022 organizing committee on Monday. Expect the committee to distance itself from Bin Hammam.
Of course, this being FIFA, the organization at the center of the bribery allegations, how much can we trust it? At this point, footballing countries should just take the lead and announce boycotts of 2022 so long as Qatar is still the host to apply pressure, a la talk of NBA players not playing as long as Donald Sterling remained owner.