SBD/January 13, 2011/Events and Attractions

Qatar Made Investments In FIFA Exec Countries Prior To WC Vote

Qatar official claims country did nothing wrong in pursuit of '22 World Cup

Internal documents revealed that Qatar's winning bid to host the '22 FIFA World Cup "was marked by a spending spree that included investments in the home countries of several executives who were responsible for choosing the host nation," according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The spending "sheds light on how FIFA regulations ... left the door open for hopefuls to open wallets to exert indirect influence on international soccer's small circle of decision-makers." Qatar bid committee documents and e-mails showed that the country also "paid soccer-world luminaries" who publicly endorsed its bid. A source said that some were paid "more than a million dollars." The documents, however, "don't show that Qatar violated the rules set down for World Cup host-nation bidding" by FIFA. Rather, they "highlight how Qatar worked within FIFA's broad guidelines to win what was initially seen as a quixotic quest to host" the World Cup. FIFA bidding rules "bar prospective host nations from promising favors or gifts to FIFA executives or their representatives." But the rules "don't address whether would-be hosts can invest in the home countries of these executives." A Qatar bid committee spokesperson said that the country "did nothing wrong throughout the bid process." Qatar officials added that the "criticism is a result of misconceptions and prejudices against the Middle East." A FIFA official said that its "regulations ensured a fair and ethical competition." Futterman notes Qatar bid committee documents "outlined how the emirate expanded the activities of a Qatar-based soccer-training academy ... into a total of 15 countries world-wide." One bid committee document from '09 details plans to "build a football academy in Thailand," home to FIFA Exec Committee member Worawi Makudi. Sources said that Makudi "voted for Qatar in the final round." He declined to say which country received his vote, but said that it has "nothing to do with the Thailand Football Dreams program referred to in Qatar's bid documents" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/13).

SHARE THE CUP: In London, Martyn Ziegler reports UEFA President Michel Platini has called for the '22 World Cup to be "played across the whole of the Arabian Gulf rather than just in Qatar." His call is "likely to fuel the controversy sparked by FIFA president Sepp Blatter when he said he expected the tournament to be played in the winter." Neither of the proposals were "suggested during last year's World Cup bidding process." Platini said, "I hope it will be a World Cup of the Gulf. It could be the World Cup of Qatar but played in the Gulf. I think we need political people (for this to happen), but I think so." Asked why such changes could be considered when they were never mentioned during the bidding, Platini said, "Who will remember the words in 12 years? In 12 years, everybody will be happy to have a very well-organised World Cup and not remember what's happened before" (LONDON INDEPENDENT, 1/13).

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