By Souad Sbai
The fact that Qatar paid huge amounts of money to host the 2022 World Cup is something that everyone knows. Suspects, clues and revelations have repeatedly filled international news since, in November 2010, FIFA succumbed to Doha’s Emirs’ appeal granting them the honor and privilege of organizing the most glamorous club competition in world football. Three years after the fateful date and with 5,000 migrant workers employed directly on building the World Cup stadiums and infrastructures killed or injured, the organizers of the event have been seriously questioned by a publication in the British newspaper the Sunday Times that details Qatari corruption of Qatar in FIFA.
The Documents seen by the Sunday Times reveal that three weeks before the official decision, Qatar offered to FIFA through the Qatari State-run broadcaster Al Jazeera (owned by a member of the ruling Al Thani clan) 400 millions of dollars for the “preventive” acquisition of broadcasting rights to the 2022 World Cup, in violation of the rule that prohibits FIFA from receiving offers from the candidate countries. In addition, the contract included an unprecedented fee of $100m that would be paid into a designated FIFA account only if Qatar was successful in the World Cup ballot in 2012. In fact, the contract with Al Jazeera was signed a few days after the ceremony where Qatar’s former ruler emir Hamad Al Thani was able to raise to heaven the legendary golden trophy received from the then president of FIFA, Joseph Blatter, as a sign of victory over the other candidates to host the World Cup.
Moreover, the Sunday Times has seen a copy of a second secret television rights contract for a further $480 million that was offered by Qatar through the state-owned sports broadcaster beIN Media to ensure that FIFA did not revoke its decision. In fact, in the face of the international pressure caused by the Qatari funding of terrorist groups and the extremism of the Muslim Brotherhood, the emirs of Doha may have feared losing the World Cup and they extended the subsidy to FIFA to a billion dollars. A spokesperson for beIN stated that the television rights contract concluded with FIFA was subjected to “an in-depth investigation” and that “no unlawful act was found”. But the stipulation of the contract – formally regular – took place in a context that was certainly not very transparent and legitimate doubts about the judicial investigation carried out that denied the existence of crimes in the events of 2010, arise.
Anyway, the documentation possessed by the Sunday Times and the contents shared so far make it mandatory to open a new investigation. It would be in Fifa’s own interest – that in the meantime has come under the direction of Gianni Infantino – to give a signal of discontinuity with respect to Blatter’s controversial administration, insisting until a new investigation will be launched. In recent months, Infantino has already denounced some intolerance towards Qatar, particularly after the story related to the Finnish footballer Riku Riski, who refused to go out to the field in Doha with his national team as a sign of protest against the human rights violations suffered by foreign workers.
The “World Cup of slavery, terrorism and corruption”, as it is often defined, runs the risk of becoming a lethal boomerang for FIFA and the new scandal that broke out after the revelations made by the British newspaper can be the ideal opportunity to amend the grave mistake committed by the previous presidency.
Therefore, I appeal to FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, to completely free the institution that represents football from the grip of a rogue State like Qatar.By doing it, he would find the full support of a substantial part of the international community, especially the moderate Arab world and the support of that part of Europe that continues to oppose the emirs of Doha and the Islamist agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood. No to the “World Cup of slavery, terrorism and corruption”! Yes to the World Cup of sport and its values to be held in a country the is worth of celebrating the most important football competition in the world!.