Pressure mounts to find an alternative host for football's showpiece event amid vote-rigging allegations
Saudi Arabia is demanding that FIFA strip Qatar of the 2022 World Cup in light of accusations of vote buying during the nomination process in 2010.
According to German magazine Focus, Saudia Arabia’s sports minister Turki Al Sheikh is insisting that vote-buying in the lead-up to the 2010 vote should nullify FIFA’s decision – and that football’s governing body will make a final call on the matter next summer.
England and the United States are reportedly being lined up as alternative venues for the tournament.
The vote-buying scandal has come to the fore again following the publication of Whatever It Takes: The Inside Story of the FIFA Way, a book by former Football Federation of Australia’s head of corporate and public affairs, Bonita Mersiades. In it, she paints a less than flattering picture of FIFA’s internal processes.
“So many things I knew, had observed, heard, and read led me to the inevitable conclusion that hosting the World Cup would never be earned on merit,” Mersiades wrote. “[The book] doesn’t attempt to be a comprehensive account of the activities of other bidders during the bid process… but it opens the window to how the ‘FIFA Way’ operated.”
The most damning revelation is the fact that, as FIFA executives worried about a revenue shortfall from a Qatar success, broadcaster Al Jazeera stepped in to promise $100m.
Last summer, FIFA released its own report of the bidding battles for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments after another German publication, Bild, announced it was going to print leaks from it.
Among its findings, it revealed a secret payment of $2.6 million was made to the ten-year-old daughter of Brazilian FIFA bigwig Ricardo Teixeira, while three senior figures were flown to a meeting in Rio in a Qatari-owned jet.
The move to strip Qatar of the 2022 World Cup has support from politicians in the UK, perhaps not surprisingly given England’s failure to secure a first World Cup since 1966.
MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said: “It’s absolutely the case that the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar has to be reviewed.”
Back in October, Dubai’s head of security, lieutenant general Dhahi Khalfan claimed that the current diplomatic crisis in the Gulf would end should Qatar surrender the tournament.