Rod Liddle

Did anyone really think that Qatar won the World Cup fairly?

It’s time to get out of Fifa — but we won’t

7 June 2014

I suppose the appalling shock to the soul that was occasioned by the allegation that Qatar bribed its way to hosting the 2022 World Cup was exceeded only by the startling suggestion that it was Fifa’s African delegates who trousered nearly all of the illicit money on offer. Who’d have thought, huh? The money was doled out by the Qatari crook Mohammed Bin Hammam, according to leaked emails obtained by the Sunday Times.

Mo did not find bribing the Africans terribly difficult, it would seem. My favourite of the various requests for money from these venal and grasping and not terribly bright Third World panjandrums was that of a chap called Adam ‘Bomber’ Mthethwa, of Swaziland: ‘I am in dire need of finance in the region of $30,000. This arises from the fact that I have just retired from politics.’

If I were Izetta Wesley of Liberia, mind, I’d be a bit miffed by these latest revelations. ‘I am so happy that I have a brother and friend that I can always depend on,’ she gushed, before being passed just $10,000 as a sweetener. Maybe it’s because Izetta’s a woman and there was Arab sexism at work in the Qatari bung department; it was probably an affront to Mo that he had to deal with a woman at all.

Rather larger sums of money were paid to companies associated with the reliably revolting Caribbean football boss Jack Warner, who responded with the email: ‘Allah is great!’ He sure is.


I call Mo a ‘crook’, by the way, but ought to point out that he has never been convicted in any court of any crime, to my knowledge. However, he has twice been given life bans from any involvement in football by Fifa following revelations of ‘conflicts of interest’ during his tenure as president of the Asian Football Confederation. This is akin to the Mafia complaining that one of its members is too zealously psychopathic. The organisation is riven with corruption from top to bottom and there is a perfectly good case for saying that our home nations should withdraw from it entirely; our continued membership is a connivance with an institution which has been shown, repeatedly, to be bent, and which has not the slightest inclination to change its procedures.

We would be followed in this action by a good few European countries — although possibly not France, which is partially implicated in this scandal. The French boss of the European football association (Uefa), Michel Platini, has been criticised for his connections to Bin Hammam. Not long after the vote which awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, the French club Paris St Germain was suddenly acquired by the state-owned Qatar Sports Investments. Though, hell, I’m sure it was a perfectly above-board deal.

But there is too much money to be made from international football for a principled withdrawal to be even considered by our own football authorities. And this despite the fact that two years ago, the former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman claimed in a parliamentary inquiry that the Fifa delegates had been up to their usual tricks ahead of voting for the right to hold the 2018 World Cup. The aforementioned Jack Warner asked for his usual vast bung, while Paraguay’s Fifa representative, Nicolas Leoz, said he’d make do with a knighthood, according to Triesman. Russia, that national paragon of probity and decency, won the 2018 bid, by the way, so you can expect Stephen Fry to be haranguing you about gay rights in the country in the run up to the tournament. I don’t suppose he’ll be much happier in 2022, mind.

I cannot imagine that anybody who watched the voting results which awarded Qatar the right to host the World Cup will have been so naive and gullible as to assume that this had been decided in an open, transparent and scrupulous manner. A tiny country with no footballing history which uses slave labour to build its stadia, expects women to attend matches dressed in the usual Islamic sackcloth and ashes, has a fairly appalling human rights record and will stage its games in the sort of searing summer heat that would make it a supreme effort merely to walk out onto the pitch, never mind kick a ball. What’s not to like about Qatar, Fifa asked, presumably rhetorically.

I think it’s fair to say that all of us knew, back then, that the process had been corrupt: it is hard to think of a less amenable location for a football tournament than this arid, desert satrapy, apart from maybe Waziristan. There were complaints at the time from the UK footballing bodies; but not enough complaints, and they were complaints tainted with politeness. There is a sense, then, that football gets what it deserves and that the tournament should be allowed to go ahead in Qatar (as it probably will). That’s what membership of Fifa, in its present incarnation, leads to — a bought deal and a competition hosted in a country where football is virtually unplayable.

And so it will continue, with the African and Caribbean delegates bought by the least scrupulous bidder every time there is a vote. It’s time to get the hell out of it. But we won’t.

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  • Picquet

    We may become concerned when the rugby union authorities choose Riyadh for their championship finals. Until then, the baboons of football can play in Ulan Baator in the depths of their winter for all I care.

  • Gwangi

    There a dodgy Iraqi bloke I know who runs a kebab shop in Splott in Cardiff who believes that Qatar won the word cup fairly. Shall I try and get his number for you?

  • rtj1211

    That was loose change compared to the money put into PSG by the Qataris. Now who works there I wonder?? Would that be Michel Platini’s son, by any chance?!

  • La Fold

    My thoughts exactly.
    My reaction to this information was “NEWS JUST IN!!! Disraeli repeals corn laws!”

    • MikeF

      It was Robert Peel – Disraeli opposed repeal.

      • La Fold

        ha ha, fair enough. i knew I shouldve just stuck with Germany invades Poland

        • manonthebus

          When was that? Did I miss something?

          • La Fold

            “No, between 1933 and 1945 all of Germany was on holiday.”

        • joe

          Germany Invades Poland along with the Russians who unfortunately stayed on for almost fifty years.

    • MikeF

      It was Robert Peel – Disraeli opposed repeal.

  • ianess

    FIFA’s awarding of the World Cup to the kleptocrats of Russia and the bribemasters of Qatar proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that they are riddled with corruption. This is old news – set out in the excellent book – ‘Foul!’ by Andrew Jennings. The most disheartening aspect of their gangsterist running of the game is that there appears no way these disgusting officials can be toppled.

    • tjamesjones

      I think the only way is unilateral withdrawal. Like Rod, I’m not saying it will happen, and there’s no guarantee that it would lead to reform, but I think it would be reasonable and anyhow it’s the only sanction we’ve got. Gosh, I’m a footballing kipper and I didn’t know it.

    • Baron

      But, ianess, we should rather welcome it if taxpayers other than ours or rich men pay for it, we can still enjoy watching it.

      It cost us around £12bn to put up the Olympic show, and what do we have to show for it?

      • ianess

        Personally. Baron, I’d be quite happy with it alternating between the USA (great stadia, infrastructure, reasonably cheap food and accommodation and, best of all, a mostly uninterested population which should mean plenty of tickets available for ordinary fans) and a European developed nation. England would have little to expend if they were ever granted the WC, given their current set-up, unlike the obscene waste on the bloated Olympics. ‘Legacy’? B/S.
        Glad to see that Sony are starting to turn the screw and can only hope the others join in.

  • Bonkim

    Don’t watch the World Cup!

    • dalai guevara

      you sad sad man

      • Bonkim

        Don’t watch sport on TV or in the ground – waste of time – commercially driven, people should spend their time wisely and not waste in watching gladiatorial combats.

        Little wonder corruption is part of spectator sport. It is just a commercial enterprise and sports-fans are mugs that pay the sports-Czars.

        • dalai guevara

          I did not ask you to spend money when wasting your time – ‘corrupt them’ back!

  • tjamesjones

    I’d vote for that.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Who in their right senses would think playing World Cup football matches in Qatar was a good idea? In that climate, gimme a break? What are trying to do, break the heat stroke record!

    • Bonkim

      Cool-air blasters spread over the ground.

  • Puss in Plimsolls

    I lived in Qatar. It has a lot of sand and some camels, and miles of rugs and people with gold in their teeth. And colourful plastic buckets. But you knew that.

    What apparently is less well known is that it’s perfectly cricket to call the place GA-tter. Sort of like ‘Gatwick’ only less decorative. Lots of people think that it’s Ka-TTARRR, which sounds like a nasty cough or something. Posh people at the BBC think you should only call it GU-tter, which to my mind sounds vaguely disrespectful. (Perhaps I should write a letter to the BBC director about that….). But I’ve been calling it GAtter all my life, as that’s what the expat Brits there — building their desalination and petrochemical plants — called it.

  • jack

    You only need to look at Nigeria and the rise of Boko Haram to see the effects of Islamic influence and cultural practice’s on Africans. Little wonder, that an Arab can come along and teach some Fifa representatives the same with a handful of notes, rather than with a sword or a gun.

    We can now all look forward to future World Cups in other great cultural places such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and of course France.

    • Bonkim

      Why bother watching this crap.

  • Michael Hanlon

    The best thing would be for this ludicrous World Cup to go ahead. In the height of summer as planned. The ensuing disaster will bring the whole revolting edifice that is modern Association Football crashing down. The only thing that can be said in FIFA’s favour is that it does not seem to be quite a bad as the IOC ….

    • rodliddle

      there is some point to that, yep.

  • dalai guevara

    I had the chance to speak with a high ranking official of a well-respected national football association at the last World Cup – he indicated then that this was coming. To paraphrase Nero: Rome is not rebuilt in a day.

  • Sergio Correa de Siqueira

    As a Brazilian, I wonder how much of the money we didn’t have Lula gave away for this wretched Cup…

  • RavenRandom

    It’s most obviously corrupt large scale sporting decision I have ever seen. Everybody knew that the only reason a country nobody can find on a map, with a population the size of Sheffield was awarded the world’s premier sporting competition was either corruption or stupidity. Venal they are, stupid they ain’t.
    Who can deal with FIFA? How can the corruption be rooted out. They appear to be self policing, hence they’ll remain corrupt forever.

  • Jimmy R

    The whole background to the choice of Qatar by FIFA stank right from the beginning and had as much to do with one egotistical and arrogant man’s delusions of his own importance than anything else. The normal procedure had always been that midway between two World Cups the venue of the one following the next one would be decided giving the winning location six years to prepare. That means that two years ago the only decision which would have been made was the single choice of Russia as the host nation in 2018.

    At the time of that choice a decision was made, at the insistence of one person who was about to stand down and would be unable to influence the choice in 2016 of location for the 2022 World Cup that the decision for 2022 should be taken, whilst he was still in charge, in 2012, four years before that choice should have been decided,

    There were loads of excuses to try to explain that sudden deviation from the normal FIFA procedure, none of which held much credibility, including the choice of Qatar being made to increase the spread of football venues to new areas.

    Plain Brown Envelopes being passed round may be one reason for the choice but it certainly looks like it was not the only one and that it was not just the African Nations which were involved in that dubious decision. The whole stinking setup needs investigating at every level, all the way to the top.

  • Dutchnick

    Disruptive to scrap FIFA, certainly but no reason not to do it. By taking a stand against corruption decent nations can be a force or good, sign up, play by the rules or get out. Unfortunately it would almost totally preclude Muslin countries but if they want to grovel into the 19th century they will have to learn the hard way.

  • Mark McIntyre

    NO !…
    Of course the ‘contest’ was not won fairly.
    Likewise – England will never win the Cup (on or off the pitch) – by fair play.
    Ergo, we have nothing to lose from ‘letting rip’ against FIFA – go for them !

  • Bonkim

    Sony and Nike are getting the wind up – Sponsors are a more potent force to wield the knife than the Press.

  • Terry Field

    The world is full of corruption.
    Only a fool has concluded that FIFA is not riven with corruption.
    The stench has been around it for a very long time indeed.

  • Ed Seyfried

    I gather the Warwickshire Hunt point to point is being transplanted to Doha next spring: where will it end?

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