When Qatar, a Gulf nation of less than 3 million people, was awarded the 2022 World Cup in December 2010 it was widely assumed that substantial backdoor dealings were the primary reason why. While FIFA President Sepp Blatter said prior to the bid being announced that the Arab world “deserved” a World Cup bid, there are several reasons why Qatar was a shocking choice.
During the time of year coinciding with the northern hemisphere summer, when the World Cup has historically been played, temperatures in Qatar can reach as high as 122 degrees. While Qatar has announced that the competition will be played in the winter to allay these concerns, they’re also banking on high-tech solar conversion panels and even proposed roving cloud-like aerial devices in their pitch. Temperature aside, there are some social obstacles that might be a hindrance to a good time.
For one, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. Secondly, alcohol consumption is allowed by foreigners, and the Qatari contingent has said it would be permitted during the World Cup, but time will tell if the Arab nation will abide by these vows in practice. Qatar also doesn’t recognize the state of Israel, though they’ve said they would allow the team to participate should they qualify. Social issues aside, there are also the dead workers to consider.
In a rush to prepare their elaborate stadium and venue plans, the tiny Gulf nation has brought in migrant laborers from Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and other poor nations. Though, laborers may be too soft of a word. Considering these workers’ squalid living conditions, inhumane shift lengths, and inability to leave at their own will, they are truly more akin to slaves. Nepalese workers are reportedly dying at a rate of one every two days. Estimates have routinely put the likely number of worker deaths by the time the Cup kicks off in 20220 at 4,000.
So, there was plenty of reason to be suspicious of how Qatar, of all places, emerged victorious in their bid to host the next World Cup – the most popular sporting event on the planet. It made no sense, unless of course there were unsavory practices at play. Which, naturally there would prove to be.
FIFA has long-embraced a poorly-veiled culture of bribery. Quite simply, officials will exchange their votes for hundred thousand and million dollar payouts, and in May 2015 a raid on a Zurich hotel kicked off the trial of 40 FIFA officials and marketing executives on charges related to their corrupt practices. With respect to Qatar, Britain’s Sunday Times has been on top of breaking the bombshells. This includes evidence that ‘Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast were allegedly paid $1.5 million to vote for Qatar.’
Though the bribery is certain to be more extensive than two African officials, the Sunday Times has now broken another report: Qatari officials enlisted the services of subversive foreign agents to create negative sentiment within the nations whom they were competing with for the 2022 bid.
‘Emails from a whistleblower show how the bid paid a public relations firm and former CIA agents to pump out fake propaganda about its main rivals, the United States and Australia, during its successful campaign to host the next World Cup.
The campaign involved recruiting influential people to attack the bids in their own countries, seeking to create the impression that there was “zero support” for the World Cup domestically.’ (The Sunday Times)
These campaigns are important, as FIFA guidelines state that potential host nations must show evidence of strong support within their domestic population in order to attain the bid. However, competing nations are strictly forbidden from disparaging other nations themselves – not that it would help – so they are compelled to conduct a ‘black ops’ mission such as the one Qatar reportedly engaged in with help from foreign agents seeking a nice payday.
The BBC also summarized the contents of emails sent by individuals associated with Qatar’s 2022 bid that were used to formulate the report.
- ‘A respected academic was paid $9,000 to write a negative report on the huge economic cost of an American World Cup, which was then distributed to news media around the world.
- Journalists, bloggers and high-profile figures were recruited in each country to hype up negative aspects of their respective bids.
- A group of American physical education teachers were recruited to ask their US Congressmen to oppose a US World Cup on the grounds that the money would be better used on high school sports.
- Grassroots protests were organized at rugby games in Australia opposing the country's bid.
- Intelligence reports were compiled on individuals involved in rival bids.’ (BBC)
Soccer has never been so Tom Clancy-esque.
Qatar has been extremely comprehensive in ensuring that they achieve the glory they are seeking, which they believe will come as the host of the world’s most watched sporting event. They bribed anybody they needed to bribe, and they created propaganda campaigns subverting its competitors, using those willing to turn in their own nations to do so.
It’s also been thorough in ensuring their soccer team won’t fall flat on its face. Qatar isn’t a nation known for its athletics, so it’s been importing athletes from Croatia, Sudan, Germany, and anywhere else they kind find athletes willing to trade their talents for a cushy life and paycheck, courtesy of the Qatari government.
And, since oil-rich Qataris don’t think very much of manual labor, either, they’ve brought in an indentured labor force who are dropping like flies in the scorching desert heat. All to host a soccer tournament.
This is the result you get when borderline-tyrannical regimes are able to prevail and operate heinously in the sunlight due to institutional corruption of sporting bodies. 4,000 workers dead, countless bribes accepted, a host team whose athletes aren’t even feigning any real Qatari roots, questions about the treatment of homosexuals, and all the credit going to the government a nation who actively orchestrates these circumstances.
Make sure when 2022 comes around, you tune in!