FIFA to face increased pressure to strip Qatar of the right to host the 2022 tournament.
How many more times is FIFA going to remain inactive in the face of obvious wrong doing by the Qatari World Cup bid team?
The Gulf State is once again facing inquests and demands for explanation over accusations of sabotaging rival bids for the 2022 World Cup bid. As usual authorities in Qatar are denying everything and throwing counter accusations deliberate attempts to smear their status as rightful hosts.
Whether or not anything comes of these latest allegations, the fact remains, FIFA have caused an almighty mess for themselves. By awarding the tiny, wealthy Arab Nation the right to host the World Cup they have caused global dismay and anger.
Its reputation, tattered and soiled, could do without another yet another blemish. But can they save face and steer their ship away from these murky waters? The answer could come from the North Atlantic.
Catalogue of bad behavior
Russia 2018 was, despite the concerns, a rip roaring success for the hosts and FIFA. The hooligans stayed away and Putin’s Russia welcomed the world to full stadia and a friendly atmosphere.
Allegations of corruption also shrouded the Russian bid back in 2010 and provided much of the backdrop in the years leading up to the tournament. The prevailing political tensions between Russia and NATO was also an unsavory ingredient in the mix. However, these are minor hiccups in comparison to Qatar’s recent and constant bad behavior.
For years now there have been countless allegations of human rights abuses on the numerous construction projects taking place in country as it prepares the shiny, modern stadia required to hold the World Cup. Workers have been paid peanuts, their passports have been confiscated and some have had to labour in the intense desert heat. Despite dozens of international reports and near constant condemnation, FIFA has shown little interest and Qatar has cracked on.
Stacked in their favour
Somehow a two year FIFA inquiry cleared Qatar of any corruption in their bid for the 2022 tournament. This was despite a host of delegates and international FA members coming forward to say they had effectively been bribed or wooed in to voting for the Gulf state’s bid.
Worse still is the deteriorating political climate in the region. According to a report by Cornerstone Global, there are increasing concerns over the political tensions affecting Qatar.
Qatar’s links to terrorist funding and attempts to destabilize other legitimate governments in the region have seen UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia all cut diplomatic ties. To be so shunned and excommunicated on the global stage is a hardly a step towards the unity and togetherness that FIFA promotes with it’s flagship tournament. No nation is squeaky clean of course, but these allegations are worrying and cast Qatar as something of a pariah.
Again though, football’s governing body has remained immobile and seemingly unwilling to take any action. These latest cries of foul play though are serious and there have been fresh demands for Qatar to be stripped of its status as host nation.
One step too many?
Reports from The Sunday Times state that the Qataris hired from CIA operatives and a top US PR firm to run a smear campaign. Their main rivals for the tournament were Australia and USA. It now looks as thought both associations have seen their campaigns damaged by some pretty underhand tactics.
If these allegations are true, they are currently being denied, then it could well be the galvanizing force to force FIFA’s hand. The evidence would have to be strong of course and clear wrong doing would have to be proven, but FIFA would have to be seen to be doing something.
It is highly unlikely that FIFA take the bold and, arguably, necessary steps to strip Qatar of the World Cup. They would likely face an enormous lawsuit and all manner of accusations of discrimination.
If it did transpire though, and FIFA finally did the right thing to end this circus sideshow which has caused nothing but shocking PR for eight years, then England would be ready to go as hosts.
The stadia are there, the infrastructure is largely in place and cities like Liverpool and Newcastle have seen explosions in tourism over the years, prepping them for something as huge as the World Cup. Never mind four years, the country could host a tournament this autumn.
Spectacularly shunned in 2010, England could be the unlikely solution to this mess that FIFA has made for itself.