Qatar’s hosting of World Cup 2022 thrown into fresh doubt

Author: GREG WILCOXMon, 2018-01-22 21:34ID: 1516651960934748100LONDON: Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup has been thrown into fresh doubt following new corruption allegations around the Gulf state’s bid to stage the 2022 tournament, a football business expert has said.
The 2022 tournament has been beset by charges of corruption and backhanders since Qatar was surprisingly gifted hosting rights in 2010. 
On Sunday further allegations emerged with the publication of extracts from a new book by Bonita Mersiades, a whistleblower from inside Australia’s failed 2022 bid.
According to the Mail on Sunday, the book claims that Qatar’s state TV company agreed a $100 million payment to FIFA should the 2022 finals come to Qatar. The book also claims that the then FIFA President Sepp Blatter knew before the vote was even conducted that Qatar would win and favorites US would lose out, and that he was so certain of it that he personally called the then US President Barack Obama before the vote to tell him the US would lose.
These allegations came on the same weekend as Bayern Munich fans protested against the club’s association with Qatar. 
Football business expert Simon Chadwick said the steady stream of charges of corruption surrounding the event, coupled with the current diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, means that Qatar is less likely to host the World Cup in four years’ time. 
“The pressure is continuing to build on Qatar and one wonders how much the country is now in control of its own destiny,” Chadwick, professor of Sports Enterprise at Salford University and a global expert on sport’s use as a tool for soft power, told Arab News. 
“These latest revelations are hardly surprising, indeed they are yet more in a stream of similar such allegations. But this is more a condemnation of FIFA than of Doha and its government, as Qatar is not alone in being embroiled in world football’s ongoing governance problems. 
“Of more concern is the fact that challenges are stacking up for Qatar; in addition to the new book, the Gulf stand-off shows no sign of abating, whilst in Germany over the weekend Bayern Munich fans protested against the club’s association with Qatar. 
“If Qatar is to weather the storm, it will take a great deal of work, fortitude and ultimately, one suspects, luck.”
The new book says that in the months before the vote in December 2010 — with FIFA executives privately worried that a Qatar win would leave a financial shortfall for coffers in 2022 — the sports arm of broadcaster Al Jazeera, now known as beIN Sports, agreed the secret deal to pay $100 million if Qatar won the vote. 
When asked about the payment by The Mail on Sunday this week, the broadcaster did not dispute it but characterized the bonus as “production contributions” that are “standard market practice and are often imposed upon broadcasters by sports federations and sports rights holders.”
The book claims that Blatter, currently banned from all football-related activities, was dismayed with Qatar’s win and wanted the country stripped of the hosting rights but he twice did a deal to stop that happening in exchange for the emir of Qatar’s guarantee that Blatter would not face a 2011 FIFA presidential challenge from former executive committee member Mohamed bin Hammam.
Blatter’s original aim to not see Qatar host the showpiece football tournament may still come true, however.
“Ongoing US investigations and legal proceedings might push world football towards a tipping point from which there might be no way back,” Chadwick said.
“Until a ball is kicked at the 2022 World Cup anything is surely possible. So, I don’t think there are necessarily any timeframes or limits in place. In any case, FIFA should in theory have a contingency in place.”
Main category: SportsTags: QatarQatar World Cup 20222022 FIFA World CupMiddle EastFIFArelated_nodes: Qatar says no World Cup games will be played outside country amid tournament doubtsQatar’s unpaid World Cup 2022 contract in spotlight amid anger over Carillion collapseBritish construction firm linked to Qatar 2022 project collapses

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