Will anything actually stop Qatar 2022 from going ahead?
Last week, German media outlet Bild leaked the full transcript of the unpublished Garcia report. The report, named so after US lawyer Michael Garcia, reported findings into the legitimacy of the Russian 2018 and Qatar 2022 World Cup bids. Garcia later complained that the watered-down version of his report that FIFA chose to publish misrepresented his conclusions, while FIFA maintained that the full contents of the American’s report did not justify stripping the Arab country of the tournament.
Many tedious years on, and it’s hard to see what Qatar can do to actually lose the World Cup. In many ways, Qatar’s avid lack of integrity in successfully winning the World Cup is tangible to President Trump’s successful presidential campaign. The latter is seen to have benefited from controversial ties to Russia, openly bragged about the appalling way in which he treats women, and continues to ostensibly influence his business empire despite avid allegations of serious conflicts of interest, while the former – Qatar- seemingly bought key votes for the World Cup, has overseen migrant slave labour to construct its stadiums, and is actually hosting the event at a different time of year, despite not mentioning it in its bid.
TIMELINE OF KEY EVENTS
March 2009: Qatar announce they’ll bid for the World Cup.
December 2010: Qatar wins the 22nd World Cup, taking 14 of 22 votes in the fourth round. The US gets eight votes.
January 2011: Sepp Blatter announces that he expects the tournament “will be held in winter”.
February 2011: Accusations of collusion rise between the Spain-Portugal 2018 bid and that of Qatar. A FIFA investigation clears both parties.
May 2011: A whistleblower, Phaedra Almajid, part of the Qatari bid, claims that money was paid to FIFA’s Executive Committee in order to buy votes.
July 2011: Almajid retracts her claims, instead claiming she wanted to exact revenge after losing her campaign job.
September 2013: UEFA’s 54 member associations back plans to move the tournament from its traditional June and July slot.
November 2013: Amnesty International uncover alleged “human rights abuses”.
June 2014: Garcia leads probe into Russian 2018 & Qatar 2022 World Cup bids.
October 2014: FIFA claim they cannot reveal the full terms of the Garcia report. Garcia later claims that FIFA misrepresent his conclusions.
May 2015: FBI raids top FIFA figures in Switzerland.
June 2015: A new report reveals migrant workers are earning as little as $50 a week to build Qatari infrastructure.
June 2015: Sepp Blatter resigns as FIFA president.
March 2016: Amnesty International accuses FIFA of failing to prevent exploitative working conditions in Qatar.
June 2017: German newspaper Bild leaks the full Garcia report, originally published in 2014, which largely concludes that the actions of Qatai officials had ‘served to undermine the integrity of the bidding process’. It also finds that the England bid had sought to “curry favour” executive committee members.
Not that we here at The Faculty endorse the Qatar World Cup, particularly in light of Amnesty International’s repeated accusations of human rights issues, but there are some genuinely credible reasons why the Arab state, and the Middle East as a whole, deserves the right to host the tournament.
REASONS QATAR WON’T LOSE THE WORLD CUP
Essentially, Qatar are immune from losing the World Cup because there is no way FIFA can indite the country without, in turn, confessing that it accepted bribes. While many of the selfish and corrupt bureaucrats who benefitted now reside in prison cells as a result of the FBI’s work in 2015, the organisation as a whole would still take another massive hit if further revelations came to light. Key figures, such as new President Gianni Infantino, were employed at the organisation when bribes were taking place. It’s not in the best interests of FIFA’s new crop of leaders to reflect too much on the past. The less that’s known, the better.
Beyond that, the country are now seven years out of 12 into their construction and planning of the tournament. The Host City, Lusail, has been built especially to host the tournament. While an entirely invalid argument, to strip the World Cup of Qatar now, this far down the line, would be serious upheaval for FIFA- despite the US reminding that they could host the tournament at a moment’s notice.
WHAT WOULD ACTUALLY STOP QATAR FROM HOSTING THE WORLD CUP?
In short, non-footballing factors.
The recent developments in the Middle East are especially interesting. FIFA won’t host the World Cup in a place where there is a danger to fans, and the political uncertainty that is arising (in part, somewhat ironically, following President Trump’s state tour) is destabilising the region significantly. This is actually a legitimate threat to the World Cup; at the time of writing, several Arab states have boycotted the country for its alleged funding endorsement of terrorist activities. The BBC have labelled it as one of the worst crises in the region for decades, a chilling analysis when you consider the troubles the region has seen in that time.
Pertinently, it was politics, financial turmoil and the emergence of drug cartels in Columbia that forced the South American country to abandon their World Cup competition just three-and-a-half years before it was due to begin in 1986. Mexico stepped in that time.
Sadly, it’s hard to see how anything else will prevent Qatar from hosting the World Cup in 2022. 1,500 migrants, living in horrific conditions and working in sweltering heat, are said to have died since 2009, with rough estimations predicting that 4,500 will perish by the time the tournament takes place.
The only thing that will stop the world cup from going ahead is any decision that doesn’t directly indite the legitimacy of the Qatari bid. Such hopes appear to be gradually fading.