Perhaps the most contentious decision in football history. In June 2010, FIFA announced that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup, setting off a chain of events that would shake the world of football and its governing body to its core. The shock announcement came just weeks after an article in the British newspaper The Sunday Times alleged corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Qatar defeated bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea, and a joint bid from the United States and Canada. While it is commonly believed that corruption was involved in awarding Qatar with hosting rights for 2022 (as well as Russia for 2018), there has never been conclusive evidence to support this belief.
There are many theories about how exactly Qatar won the right to host, but nothing has ever been proven beyond doubt. “Complément d’Enquête” journalists begin by painting a picture of the living and working conditions of foreign workers on World Cup construction sites.
Slums house 500,000 workers who work 84 hours a week for a salary of 280 euros a month. Subcontractors hired by French companies on site and their employees are in the same boat. No one knows if the people in debt who have had their passports confiscated are really being treated as corvéables or are simply indebted.
Qatar And The World Cup
Qatar is a tiny, incredibly rich, extremely conservative Persian Gulf State. It is the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, with a population of just over 2 million people. It has never hosted a major football tournament and its only professional football club plays in the Asian Football Confederation’s second tier.
Qatar has 4 stadiums. 2 of those stadiums have yet to be built, and the other 2 have been recently built primarily for the 2022 World Cup. To put this into perspective, Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup required 12 stadiums. Australia’s hosting of the same tournament in 2022 requires 9 stadiums.
This is because many games would be played in cities that do not currently have stadiums at a high enough standard to host World Cup games. It is estimated that Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup would cost a staggering $80 billion.
Michel Platini - Key Figure In Qatar 2022 Decision
Michel Platini was the president of UEFA, the European Football Association, from 2007 to 2015. UEFA is the football governing body of Europe and one of FIFA’s 2 Vice Presidents. Platini was perhaps the most vocal advocate of Qatar’s bid for hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup.
He was a key figure in the decision making process for FIFA, and as president of UEFA, he had a seat at the table alongside FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter. When FIFA was investigating the alleged corruption behind the voting process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Platini was one of the officials under investigation.
He was suspected of receiving bribes from Qatar to vote for them, but the investigation was never completed because he was banned by FIFA for a different matter entirely.
Who Are The Key Players?
- Sepp Blatter - FIFA President - Blatter has been president of FIFA since 1998. Over the years, he has become a central figure in international football, and it seems almost inconceivable that FIFA would have gotten where it is today without his influence. He also played a significant role in the vote for the host country of the 2022 World Cup.
- Michel Platini - A key figure in Qatar’s win, and former UEFA President. Platini was the most vocal advocate of the small Persian Gulf state hosting the 2022 World Cup and was a key figure in the decision making process for FIFA. Allegations of receiving bribes from Qatar led to his suspension from soccer and ultimately his resignation from the post of UEFA President.
- Nicolas Sarkozy - Former President of France - Sarkozy is alleged to have accepted favours from Qatar in exchange for France supporting Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid. He has denied any wrongdoing, but the investigation against him is ongoing, and his name continues to be connected to the most controversial moment in the history of FIFA.
Conflicting Evidence Of Bribes Paid
Many people have made claims about Qatar’s win for 2022, but no one has ever produced any evidence of bribes being paid. The Sunday Times published an article in 2010 titled “FIFA’s Dirty Game”. According to the article, officials from Qatar had paid millions of dollars in bribes to FIFA officials to vote for Qatar.
The article was the first and only article to claim corruption in Qatar’s win for 2022. If bribes had been paid, it would seem logical that more than one individual would come forward and attempt to profit from this information, but this has never happened.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, who were in charge of Qatar’s winning bid for the 2022 World Cup, released a document refuting all allegations of corruption in their bid. They also hired the American law firm DLA Piper to conduct an independent investigation into all aspects of Qatar’s bid.
The findings of the investigation were published in a 114-page report in July 2013. According to fresh information, the sale of Rafale fighter jets might have been jeopardised. At the same time, in 2010, French president Nicolas Sarkozy appealed to Qatar to purchase Paris Saint-Germain, which was struggling financially. Many supporting documents are available, and the noose is getting tighter.
It is impossible to say that Qatar did not receive preferential treatment from FIFA, because it is extremely unlikely that any country would spend so much money on hosting a World Cup (approximately $80 billion in this case) without expecting some sort of return.
However, it is also improbable that the decision to award Qatar with hosting rights for 2022 was based solely on financial gain. It is important to remember that the countries that bid for the hosting rights for the 2022 and 2018 World Cups would not have known the outcomes of their bids until 2 December 2010.
The fact that certain countries with less economic means are still struggling to recover from the 2008 financial crisis would have had an impact on FIFA’s voting process. Perhaps the most controversial decision in football history. In June 2010, FIFA announced that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup, setting off a chain of events that would shake the world of football and its governing body to its core.
The shock announcement came just weeks after an article in the British newspaper The Sunday Times alleged corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Qatar defeated bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea, and a joint bid from the United States and Canada.
While it is commonly believed that corruption was involved in awarding Qatar with hosting rights for 2022 (as well as Russia for 2018), there has never been conclusive evidence to support this belief. There are many theories about how exactly Qatar won the right to host, but nothing has ever been proven beyond doubt.