Explosive new details in the story behind Qatar’s controversial bid to host the 2022 World Cup have come to light.
A new investigation published on Tuesday in France Football magazine reveals the full extent of Qatar’s murky behind-the-scenes dealings to win bid, including alleged bribery of FIFA board members.
It also painstakingly details the involvement of French sporting and government officials, reaching into the heart of the Elysee Palace during the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.
The report also asks “how many will die to build the stadia?”, quoting the ITUC’s Sharan Burrow and Equal Times coverage of the plight of migrant workers in Qatar.
Posing the question “what would happen if the bid is re-opened?” the 15-page report is based on months of research by journalists Eric Champel and Philippe Auclair.
It provides background to Qatar’s purchase of Sarkozy’s favourite team, Paris Saint-Germain, rescuing it from bankruptcy in a deal apparently helped along by the former President himself.
As the tiny Gulf kingdom has sought to extend its international influence to act as a counterweight to its powerful neighbours Iran and Saudi Arabia, Qatar has also become a major player in French real estate and corporate investments.
Tax concessions for Qatari businesses and close relationships between the Qatar royal family and French political figures – including some in the current government – have resulted in Qatari investments of more than €6 billion in eight of the biggest companies in France, according to a recent article in leading French news weekly Marianne.
France Football’s “Qatargate” report goes beyond the new alliance of convenience between Qatari and French business and politics, listing a string of high-profile former football players engaged in Qatar’s global public relations campaign.
It also recalls allegations from the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper that top African FIFA officials Jacques Anouma and Issa Hayatou were paid US$1.5m to vote for Qatar’s World Cup bid.
The original source of those allegations – who worked on the Qatar bid – subsequently withdrew them without explanation but Mohamed bin Hammam, who led the bid, has since been suspended from FIFA over corruption allegations.
The ITUC’s general secretary Sharan Burrow welcomes the findings and calls on FIFA to re-open the bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
“Qatar is throwing billions of dollars around the world to curry political favour and put a shiny face on the ugly reality of its modern-slavery economy.
“Even if FIFA clears the air on corruption, the stench of maltreatment and exploitation of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers will persist. FIFA needs to re-open the 2022 bid process for the sake of its own reputation, and as a clear signal that Qatar’s refusal to treat its huge migrant workforce decently cannot continue,” she said.