Football’s Dirty Money Gets a Public Washing

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The 16-page report in this week's edition of France Football cries "foul" from the rafters and asks if the oil-rich fiefdom should have their right to host the 2022 World Cup rescinded.

Although it’s quite lazily entitled “Qatargate”, the exposé doesn’t exactly produce anything new in terms of facts, but it does shine the light on the fact that big money has now corrupted the “beautiful game” to the very core and more particularly, to the core committee of 23 that decided who should host the forthcoming World Cup Finals.

Qatar were awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup by FIFA in 2010 – an unprecedented 12 years before the finals take place. At the time, many scratched their heads and smelled something decidedly fishy was going on when a small desert country with no tradition of soccer was handed such an honour.

Since then, the Qataris have invested enormously in football in France and elsewhere, transforming the club Paris Saint-Germain into into one of the moneyed elite clubs of Europe.

The France Football report refers to various emails and quotes from FIFA representatives that allude to the premise that the rest of the world believes to be quite clear – namely that Qatar have simply bought the right to host the World Cup.

One of its most serious allegations is that a “secret meeting” took place at the Elysée Palace on the 23rd of November 2010 between the (then) president Nicolas Sarkozy, the Prince of Qatar (Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani), UEFA president and former French football star Michel Platini and Mr Sébastien Bazin. The latter represented a company called Colony Capital, who were the owners of Paris-Saint-Germain.

According to France Football, the assembled personalities hammered out a deal. Simply put, the Qataris would take over PSG and set up a new sports channel (BeIn Sport) to rival the dominant Canal+. All this would be done in exchange for a promise from Platini: that he would not vote for the USA to host the 2022 World Cup but would instead switch his allegiance to Qatar.

All promises were kept. Qatar has pumped over €100 million into PSG (who have made it to the quarter-final of the Champions League), with the promise from its owner to invest €100 million every season for “several years”. The question remains: How much did they pay to persuade the 23-man FIFA committee to vote for their right to host the 2022 World Cup?

(Related Articles: Qatar Buying up France)

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