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Sunday Times Qatar World Cup Corruption Claim
June 1, 2014 12:08 AM   Subscribe

BBC re-reports: Fifa is facing fresh allegations of corruption over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The Sunday Times has obtained millions of secret documents - emails, letters and bank transfers - which it alleges are proof that the disgraced Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totalling US$5m (£3m) to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid.
posted by marienbad (56 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was anyone honestly in any doubt before all this came out? Much like the IOC, even the legal bribes are still bribes; the whole thing exists to funnel money to a small coterie of villains.
posted by smoke at 12:20 AM on June 1 [11 favorites]


Doesn't surprise me in the slightest. This is my comment in an Olympic Games thread from 2012:

"Look, I can't comment on the London games but I can comment on the Sydney games. I was a volunteer in Canberra where the preliminary football (soccer) games were played in 2000.

I saw FIFA offficials strut around as though they owned the city, picking up things off desks (stationery, gifts from teams, etc) and pocketing them. I noticed that FIFA had young hot teenage girls as their administrative staff and interpreters and they were groped and ogled, and it made my skin crawl."

It would be impossible to convince me that FIFA aren't utterly devoid of any ethics whatsoever.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:42 AM on June 1 [13 favorites]


That's it!? $5 Mil? The paper trail's gotta be longer.
posted by mafted jacksie at 12:42 AM on June 1 [16 favorites]


I'm never suprised that there is graft. I am amazed at how low the price.
posted by vapidave at 1:09 AM on June 1 [38 favorites]


Shut Qatar out of 2022; ban EVERYONE who had anything to do with this from soccer for life. How much of a reach is it from here to fixing games?

I have grown to love soccer, but will dump it like a rotten vegetable if this kind of corruption goes unpunished. This reminds me of professional wrestling. The IOC and the to World Cup soccer officials disgust me. They are a disgrace - not only to their respective venues - but to the spirit of sport, in general. Ban every one of these assholes, and redo the 2022 bids in an open, transparent way.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:20 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


I am amazed at how low the price.

When you look at political contributions to effect legislation in the US the numbers are similarly shocking.
posted by MillMan at 1:26 AM on June 1 [14 favorites]


I'm close to someone who was trying to make their relatively small bit of FIFA better from the inside but it was too big and they got the hell out of there.

The change needs to be top-down and global, but FIFA, despite its budget and aims, is not state, and answers only to Adidas.

I want to say it's more like the Catholic Church, but with religion there are only lives and afterlives at stake. Football matters far more to people, and football is forever, and what good is eternal bliss if Cheltenham Town missed promotion two years in a row?
posted by ddd at 1:52 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]


5 million plus the blood of 4000 South Asians.
posted by Literaryhero at 1:53 AM on June 1 [30 favorites]


Has anyone at FIFA actually expressed any concern about this? Any intention to do something about it? Or are things, as I suspect, just going to proceed as normal as if the whole fucking deal isn't rotten to the core?
posted by Jimbob at 2:39 AM on June 1


Millions of documents? Snowden and Poitras can't be responsible; they're fron the USA. Assange would be more interested in rugby and AFL. Glenn Greenwald doesn't have the technical chops. I think it's time to take a look at the true dark horse in this matter: his partner, the so-called data courier, David Miranda. He's Brazilian, folks. Who would be more invested in keeping the beautiful game corruption-free and accessible to the poor? You know it makes sense.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:47 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]


The hear-no-evil, see-no-evil attitude at FIFA can be traced all the way to the top. Sepp Blatter bears a huge responsibility as 4-terms and counting president, and has blatantly ignored ongoing evidence of corruption at FIFA; from the ISL scandal, from FIFA's own Ethics Committee report and now the Qatar mess. I very much doubt anything substantial can be done until he's replaced.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:39 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, in the NYT, an article on match fixing at the World Cup. Corruption is at the core of FIFA, all the way from the President down to the ref on the pitch.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:46 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]


FIFA and Blatter are quite untouchable. The only way FIFA could be sorted would be if the leading European and South American nations broke away. That's not going to happen; it would look too much like contempt for the Africans and Asians, for one thing.
posted by Segundus at 3:50 AM on June 1


> When you look at political contributions to effect legislation in the US the numbers are similarly shocking.

Part of why graft in the U.S. is so cheap is that it's only part of the exchange; the other half is his post-Congress guarantee of a lush sinecure at the lobbying wing of some megacorp, think tank, or lobbying group, whose only responsibility is to be the guy who knows some other guys.

Blatter and his cronies don't seem to have that kind of arrangement, so it's more believable the Sunday Times has not reached the end of the paper trail yet.
posted by at by at 4:17 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]


I spoke to someone who had worked in Qatar. The stories I heard were appalling, especially of its Asian workforce. They treat them with contempt; cram them into squalid buildings without air-conditioning or running water, and force them to work twelve hours plus a day in the blistering heat.

There is plenty of money in the country but the Asians receive little. Under-watered and overworked, many end up in hospital. Many end up dead.

Workers have no choice but to stay in Qatar as, under the Kafala system, they are more or less owned by their employers and cannot leave the country without their consent.

I was told of the police beating an Indian to an inch of his life. It's considered a 'national sport' over there.

This country should never have been given the World Cup. Qatar made assurances to FIFA that it would make improvements to the welfare of its workers, but this has been nothing but window dressing. Qatar doesn't care, neither does FIFA.
posted by popcassady at 4:21 AM on June 1 [9 favorites]


I'm no expert in kickbladder, but... why isn't the World Cup venue decided on fan votes? Just have the rule that you can't vote for your own country.
posted by Devonian at 4:21 AM on June 1


Every 4 years the World Cup is held in Russia or China?
posted by fullerine at 4:26 AM on June 1 [2 favorites]


I think they should legalize all of it. Bribes, fixing, performance enhancing drugs, etc.

Instead of making movies about draft day, they can make movies about a cunning match-fixer and his rival, the steroid-addled enforcer who kidnaps the goal-keeper the day of the match.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:50 AM on June 1 [3 favorites]


I'd love to say surprised but meh. Between this and the NYT article and people diving like they've been shot with a gun when touched in the foot I have completely written off soccer. I have zero interest. I'll echo an early comment in that to me soccer is about as serious a sport as professional wrestling.
posted by chasles at 5:14 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


That's ridiculous.

Professional wrestling is real.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:59 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]


chasles: " I'll echo an early comment in that to me soccer is about as serious a sport as professional wrestling."

No offense, but if you believe that, you obviously don't actually watch any real soccer, and probably shouldn't have an opinion.

I don't understand the arcane workings of FIFA, but from what I can tell it's pretty entrenched with self-perpetuating corruption due to all of the money involved and constant deal-making behind the scenes. Is it possible for the congress to get a collective conscience, and if so, do they have the power to make things different?
posted by Red Loop at 6:03 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


I was surprised to see the payoff as low as $5M, suspect that it'll likely be more. Fifa will do absolutely nothing about it though. Blatter runs around as dictator for life and there's to many cronies who benefit.
posted by arcticseal at 6:15 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Part of the problem is the same one the UN has (being a democracy that's populated with autocracies), except that it's a global organization whose membership largely runs on graft. People in (some parts of) the developed world live in places where this sort of thing is at least done under the table or via polite fictions like "campaign donations." The rest of the world, though (i.e., the majority) lives in places where civil servants make basically minimum-wage salaries and are expected to make enough to survive by taking what we call bribes. Want to get this official document? Well, the official cost is 15 Kerblooeys, but if you happen to have 50 Kerblooeys, then your application might move a little faster, ifyouknowwhatImean.

So the Times and the BBC and Der Spiegel and Le Monde and the few American media outlets that can be bothered to care report OUTRAGE and CORRUPTION, while the rest of the world shrugs and reports BUSINESS AS USUAL and DUH.
posted by Etrigan at 6:49 AM on June 1


I love news like this! Just further proof of my gut feelings about FIFA, World Cup and professional soccer in general. Yes, I realize cheating and bad things occur even in MLB, NFL, NBA, etc.. but it's more fun to laugh at the slavish devotion of countrymen to their teams, the dive-taking and fakery of the players doing anything and everything they can to pretend, get the refs attention, draw a call on someone else. And the refs with their own alliances, game fixing, corruption from the top, etc... what a farce, and what a momentous waste of time, money, energy and resources. I love it.

Baseball and tennis, still the perfect sports.
posted by ReeMonster at 6:59 AM on June 1


Meanwhile, in the NYT, an article on match fixing at the World Cup.

I'm surprised they didn't mention the recent Nigerian own-goal, which has to be seen to be believed.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:28 AM on June 1 [8 favorites]


Baseball and tennis, still the perfect sports.

Post something about them, then.
posted by Segundus at 7:36 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]


God, politicians are cheap.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:41 AM on June 1


Want to get this official document? Well, the official cost is 15 Kerblooeys, but if you happen to have 50 Kerblooeys, then your application might move a little faster, ifyouknowwhatImean.


My longform birth certificate from Quebec just cost me 60 Kerblooeys including the extra fee for 'expedited processing'. That was twice what my wife's cost from Ontario. Nine years ago I had to pay a similar price with extra for expedited processing for my official marriage certificate from Ontario.

Corruption or just gov'ts being gov'ts?

I suppose it depends on whose pockets the cash goes into but it doesn't make a lot of difference to me.
posted by srboisvert at 7:53 AM on June 1


I suppose it depends on whose pockets the cash goes into but it doesn't make a lot of difference to me.

Well, yes, the pockets it's going into does make a difference to you. Some examples:

An official schedule of fees is less vulnerable to discrimination based on your being part of some group that one guy behind a desk doesn't like.

You can go to some higher official and say, "Hey, I paid for expedited processing, and here's my receipt to prove it, so make it happen," rather than going to some higher official and saying, "Hey, my bribe didn't work, here's another bribe and gosh I sure hope this one works."

If the actual price to the government isn't an extra X Kerblooeys, then the rest of that money goes to other useful things a government provides rather than into the pocket of an official.

You're right that there aren't really those bright lines between "corruption" and "grease" and "user fees," but yeah, there is a difference between your experiences between Quebec and Ontario and what people have to go through in those very large swaths of the world where FIFA officials getting $5M to sell the World Cup to Qatar produces a shrug.
posted by Etrigan at 8:07 AM on June 1 [15 favorites]


Every team involved in FIFA should say "Fuck you" and form a new organization, preferably one more open and transparent.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:45 AM on June 1


Talking of Québec, they planned to play in the worldcup for indie teams that's starts today, but bailed out at the last moment.
posted by effbot at 8:53 AM on June 1


Baseball and tennis, still the perfect sports.



Yeah, no drugs in baseball at all.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:50 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]


Does it really matter anymore? Why not award the cup to the nation that offers most money and be done with it.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:24 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]




FIFA Open to Qatar 2022 revotebribe.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:57 AM on June 1 [5 favorites]


Per robocop is bleeding's comment, I now have my perfect excuse why the US team will be eliminated in the first round.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:06 AM on June 1


FIFA Open to Qatar 2022 revote.

Yeah, no kidding. Blatter never wanted the 2022 WC to go to Qatar; he supported the US's bid. It was Platini who was pushing for Qatar, likely in preparation for a bid for the FIFA presidency.
posted by asterix at 11:41 AM on June 1


"proof that the disgraced Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totalling US$5m (£3m) to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid. "

D'oh! HA-HA!
posted by markkraft at 11:54 AM on June 1


(Yes, that was meant as the first Simpsons reference / Qatari in joke.)
posted by markkraft at 11:57 AM on June 1


anotherpanacea said: Instead of making movies about draft day, they can make movies about a cunning match-fixer and his rival, the steroid-addled enforcer who kidnaps the goal-keeper the day of the match.

That's basically the plot of Horse Feathers by the Marx Brothers. Shame it's about the wrong kind of football.
posted by kewb at 12:13 PM on June 1 [4 favorites]


Put Eric Cantona in charge!
posted by Brocktoon at 1:30 PM on June 1


"FIFA Is Facing Allegations" is a really excellent recursive acronym.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:28 PM on June 1 [22 favorites]


I'd like to reiterate my previous comment
posted by Ned G at 3:44 PM on June 1


I'm shocked, *SHOCKED* to find out that there is gambling going on in this establishment

and so forth...
posted by dry white toast at 8:19 PM on June 1


I will say this: it's funny how things play out. If somehow the right thing happens and Qatar loses the World Cup for this, it will be like catching Al Capone on tax evasion or Barry Bonds on perjury.
posted by dry white toast at 8:22 PM on June 1 [1 favorite]


I get the sense that there is much more going on behind the scenes, simply because corruption has always been part of the World Cup selection process and now it is being foregrounded in ways it presumably hasn't in the past.

I was (naively) hoping that continued international pressure would help with working conditions in Qatar, that the complaints about holding the games in the summer and now the surfacing corruption evidence were all attempts to push for change.

If the games are taken away, there will be no reform. Qatar's boom economy means there is a great deal of construction taking place that has nothing to do with the World Cup. Within two miles of my house in Doha I can count at least three giant malls in various stages of development and can see many more buildings under construction.

I don't know how the actuarial math would play out in this scenario. Would yanking the cup cause an overall slow down in construction that would save more lives than putting in place reforms that would last for the next 200 years, until the natural gas runs out?
posted by mecran01 at 10:57 PM on June 1


If the games continue there will be no reform. It's an absolute monarchy propped up by a ridiculous influx of wealth; what, you think the rulers will throw that away? Taking the World Cup away will send a message to other countries and make FIFA itself more credible. It will have ziggety-boo effect on Qatar, but that's not the point.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:26 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]


When I say "reform" my sights are set rather low--like, enforcing labor policies, keeping workers safer, and maybe increasing salaries a little. That seems possible.
posted by mecran01 at 3:56 AM on June 2


If the Qatar World Cup takes place, (big if) it will have to do so during the northern hemisphere's winter. The big clubs with the best players can refuse to release their players for the tournament. The tv stations of Europe can refuse to cover the competition. The fans will back this and can embarrass the hell out of anyone who insists the competition goes ahead. We can make it toxic. No sponsor will dare go near it. I expect fan trouble at the Brazil world cup to set an interesting precedent in this direction. We can kill the Qatari World Cup without involving FIFA. And without the World Cup, FIFA dies. Would they dare take that gamble ? I doubt it.
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 5:10 AM on June 2


I get the sense that there is much more going on behind the scenes

What's going on, it's apparent, is a power struggle between Blatter, who desperately wants to run for another term, and his presumed heir, Michel Platini of France. Blatter opposed the Qatar bid; Platini, the head of UEFA, was behind it. (Soon after Platini's vote for Qatar—presto!—the Qatar Investment Authority purchased Paris St. Germain, France's top club, and hired Platini's son.) So this discrediting of the Qatar bid is also a move to take down Platini. It's incomprehensible that "millions of e-mails and documents" from FIFA would become available to the Sunday Times without some very high-level assistance. Possibly the highest level.

Fans can only hope that, as a byproduct of this (it's surely not the main reason), there's a revote that puts the World Cup in a more reasonable place in 2022. What that would mean for workers' rights in Qatar I'm sure neither Blatter nor Platini, or anyone else in FIFA, cares.
posted by stargell at 8:01 AM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Update:

Uefa president Michel Platini under pressure to explain secret meeting with corrupt World Cup 2022 bid chief
--French FIFA official


--French FIFA official
Qatar nears talks to buy ‘unpopular’ Rafale fighter jets
--French fighter jets.

Make of this what you will.

Also, the average temperature in July in Manaus, in Brazil, where at least one world cup game will be held, is 90-92 degrees.

The average temperate at night in Doha, in July, is 87-89 degrees.

Couldn't they just hold the games late at night? 10 p.m. in Doha is 4 p.m. in Brazil, and 9:00 p.m. in Stuttgart. Everyone stays up late here anyway in the summer.
posted by mecran01 at 9:48 PM on June 2




John Oliver and Last Week Tonight on FIFA, tax, money, law and ... oh just watch it.
posted by Wordshore at 3:31 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]




I enjoyed this Gabriele Marcotti piece on Sepp Blatter and how he's stayed in power in large part by actually distributing money (sometimes even in non-corrupt ways!) to the tiniest countries in FIFA. As ludicrous a figure as he is, it's easy to lose sight of the things he actually does well while he's busy opining about short shorts and presiding over massive corruption scandal after massive corruption scandal.
posted by Copronymus at 12:00 PM on June 13


LARB: The Autocrat’s Guide To World Cup Qualification
Qatar

In 1996, former Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani came up with a daring plan to acquire the World Cup — that is, he offered to buy the trophy directly from then-holders Brazil. Regrettably, the Brazilian Football Federation declined his offer. The Emir was disappointed and ordered a 30-foot replica of the World Cup to be built in Doha. If you stand far enough from the statue you can take one of those endearing pictures of yourself pretending to hold the World Cup — a popular pastime in Doha. The Qatari love affair with football would have a happy ending, though, as Al Thani later succeeded in buying the World Cup directly from FIFA.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:27 AM on June 25


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