When the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar, it was heralded at first, but angry shouts suggested otherwise. Despite a lack of evidence at the time, many fans and pundits declared that the only way a small country with no footballing tradition could beat the likes of the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea was to bribe FIFA officials.
There were also concerns about the treatment of migrant workers and the unbearable summer heat of the Middle Eastern country. Now, new evidence is coming to light that brings the whole tournament into question.
The British newspaper The Telegraph has been investigating reports of possible corruption involved in the bidding process. One name is Trinidadian and CONCACAF official Jack Warner, who is suggested to have been bribed by Qatari officials linked to Mohammed Bin Hammam a total of $1.2 million in the American currency. There are also reports that American prosecutor Michael Garcia‘s office is investigating claims of corruption. The FBI is also said to be involved.
Qatari officials have denied any wrongdoing, but there is little doubt that this World Cup has become a PR nightmare for them. The heat, lack of infrastructure and the deaths of migrant workers — which could read as high as 4,000 by the time the stadiums are finished — have caused enough problems. If these claims of corruption and bribery are true, then it should be the last straw and the World Cup must be stripped from Qatar.
Of course, Sepp Blatter being Sepp Blatter, there probably isn’t much chance that this will happen. Still, he’s come under so much criticism over his leadership of the governing body that if he is given enough reasons, such as a wish to restore whatever legacy he had, then he could order a re-vote. Currently, FIFA is investigating these allegations of corruption. Blatter himself has been coy about the possibility.
If Blatter wants to do the right thing, he should order a re-vote on the World Cup, or simply strip the hosting rights from Qatar. It’s certainly admirable to want to host the World Cup in a Middle Eastern country, but Qatar is not the place for it. To not take action would only raise more questions than answers and damage Blatter’s legacy even more.