Documents obtained by The Wall Street Journal show that Qatar’s World Cup bid committee invested millions of dollars in the home countries of certain FIFA executives, including those who were ultimately responsible for picking the tiny Middle Eastern nation as the host of the 2022 tournament.They also paid millions of dollars to soccer luminaries from other countries who then endorsed the Qatari bid.
And according to FIFA rules … that’s perfectly OK.
FIFA’s bidding rules prohibit potential host countries from offering money, favours, or gifts as bribes to FIFA executives. But much like the pork barrel politics our own country is used to, that doesn’t prevent countries from funelling dollars to pet projects in the representatives homelands.
For example, Qatar’s royal family has expanded its Aspire Academy for Sports Excellence into a total of 15 countries, including building new soccer training programs in Thailand and Nigeria. Both Thailand and Nigeria had representatives on FIFA’s executive committee.
It has been reported that Thailand’s member, Worawi Makudi, voted for Qatar.
Qatar also paid French legend Zinedine Zidane almost $3 million to become a “bid ambassador” and endorse the project in interviews around the world.
These plans were laid out in the documents from Qatar’s bid committee, because in truth they have nothing to hide. Investing in these countries and hiring paid endorsers broke no FIFA rules.
But it might explain how a country with 100+ degree summer temperatures and no football stadiums secured the rights to the world’s biggest sports tournament.
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