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SBD Global/June 4, 2014/International Football

Columnist: Qatar Allegations 'Depressing' For Those Who Love Football, World Cup

FIFA awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup in Dec. 2010.
At first glance, the latest allegations that a Qatari official "greased palms to help buy the 2022 World Cup for his Gulf nation make very depressing reading for anyone who loves the global game and its showcase tournament," according to John Leicester of the AP. The spotlight "now falls on two people:" FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA prosecutor Michael Garcia. Blatter "should resist calls -- at least for now -- for Qatar to be stripped of the 2022 World Cup or for a revote to be held." Such a "momentous and unprecedented decision, which would be a huge affront to the tiny, but very rich nation in a volatile, complicated and strategic part of the world, cannot be taken lightly." Politicians and others so quick to suggest Qatar is no longer or perhaps never was a suitable and trustworthy World Cup host "should pause and take breath." They should "consider how public opinion in the Middle East might react if Qatar was shamed in the eyes of the world by being stripped of the tournament" (AP, 6/3).

CLINTON'S FUROR: In London, Watt, Newell & Bryant reported former U.S. President Bill Clinton "looked anything but happy as he strode into the Savoy Baur en Ville hotel in Zurich in December 2010." The receptionists "could tell he was irritated, but had no idea just how angry he was." After closing the door to his suite, "he reached for an ornament on a table and threw it at a wall mirror in a fit of rage, shattering the glass." Clinton could "not believe America’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup had been beaten by, of all places, Qatar." A source said, “Clinton was fuming. He felt humiliated and felt the decision did not make sense” (TELEGRAPH, 6/3).

WHAT MONEY CAN BUY: In Melbourne, Michael Warner reported Australian football chiefs were "well aware" votes could be bought to secure the 2022 World Cup. Sources close to Australia’s failed bid for the event "have revealed there was an understanding within the world game’s corridors of power that rigging votes was an option." A source said, “If you went looking for it you could find it. The world of FIFA is a pretty murky place.” But Australia "never considered playing dirty pool" and understood rival bidders Japan, South Korea and the U.S. "would also act within the rules." Nobody gave Qatar "a serious chance of hosting the event." The source added, "Once they got it ... we knew people had been got to. The actual outcome was ridiculous. It stank" (HERALD SUN, 6/3). In Sydney, Tom Smithies wrote "the good news is that the prospect of Qatar not hosting the 2022 World Cup has grown stronger in recent days." The "bad news, at least for those still hoping Australia will suddenly become the fall-back option, is the chances of that coming to pass are next to zero." On moral grounds, Australia "has no claim." The A$45M ($42M) of public money that funded the bid by Football Federation Australia Chair Frank Lowy "garnered precisely one vote." Australia came last in the first round of voting, behind bids that were "never considered realistic like South Korea and Japan." So if an alternative to Qatar had to be chosen from the existing bidding process, the U.S. "has an unanswerable case -- it came second behind Qatar, with eight votes in the final round" including that of Blatter (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 6/3).
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