How Qatar received the 2022 World Cup bid

November 19, 2022

Qataris like soccer however they love falconry. Searching with birds, bashing the dunes in 4x4s, chewing the fats with the chaps in desert camps — that’s the life for the person about Doha.

The game is so common that many of the birds, which may value as a lot as £85,000 ($100,000) every, are farmed and the commerce in wild falcons is discouraged.

However in his 2022 guide Inside Qatar: Hidden Tales from One of many Richest Nations on Earth, British social anthropologist John McManus quotes a French breeder who as soon as instructed him: “In Qatar, there aren’t any rules, it’s open season.”

When McManus asks a Qatari who has taken him out for a day’s searching whether it is authorized to purchase wild birds, the reply is “generally it’s unlawful”.

No rules, open season, generally unlawful… it sounds a bit just like the hunt that world soccer’s governing physique FIFA placed on for the best to stage the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, doesn’t it?

For these of you who’ve simply emerged from a 12-year stint in solitary confinement, Qatar beat bids from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the US to win the best to stage this yr’s World Cup at a vote in Zurich in December 2010, and its workforce performs Ecuador within the opening sport on Sunday.


Qatar was named because the host nation of the 2022 World Cup in 2010 (Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Photos)

The actual fact Qatar received the vote doesn’t essentially imply its bid was dodgy. It was a flawed contest, with inconsistent guidelines, run by a corrupted organisation. Blaming the individuals for a liberal interpretation of what was and was not allowed is like criticising Squid Sport contestants for being a bit egocentric.

Nevertheless, ever since ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter pulled Qatar’s card from his envelope, the Gulf state’s triumph has been picked aside by aggrieved rivals, human rights campaigners, legislation enforcement businesses and the worldwide media.

It was additionally a controversial selection for the explanations outlined right here — however Qatar has held on. It has resisted requires the event to be reallocated or shared. It got here by a FIFA-financed impartial investigation comparatively unscathed. No smoking weapons had been discovered when the Feds went in. It refused to buckle when its neighbours tried to crash the Qatari financial system. And, whereas scandal after scandal has taken down key actors elsewhere, Qatar’s present goes on.

So, how did they win the bid?


Allow us to begin with some universally agreed details.

For many years, World Cups had been awarded one after the other, often six or seven years earlier than the event to offer the hosts time to arrange. For the reason that Sixties, the choice was made by FIFA’s govt committee (ExCo), as former FIFA president Sir Stanley Rous thought the awarding of World Cups was too contentious for the broader membership.

Blatter, who joined FIFA shortly after Rous was bundled into retirement by Brazilian businessman, lawyer and former Olympic swimmer Joao Havelange in 1974, agreed with the Englishman on the necessity to reserve this choice for the ExCo — a choose group of the FIFA president, vice-presidents and committee members — however he went additional. In 2008, it was determined FIFA may award two World Cups in a single sitting.

The official rationale was that this may give FIFA a stronger hand in negotiations with broadcasters and sponsors, as it might have extra stock and an extended relationship to promote to potential companions. A extra cynical view was that two bidding contests without delay would imply twice as many backhanders. We couldn’t presumably remark.

Both means, FIFA was not in need of choices for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments. In 2007, the governing physique had dropped its coverage of rotating the World Cup between its six confederations — Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Central America, Oceania and South America — and changed it with a rule that said in case your confederation hosted a World Cup, it couldn’t bid for the following two editions.

As Africa (South Africa) and South America (Brazil) had received the best to stage the 2010 and 2014 tournaments, this left the stage clear for bids from the opposite 4 confederations. It initially seemed like FIFA would possibly get 11 bids from 13 nations (there have been two joint bids from Europe) however bids from Indonesia and Mexico by no means actually obtained off the bottom.

That left 9: Belgium/Netherlands, England, Spain/Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Qatar, Australia, Japan and the US. Seven of them had been going for both 2018 or 2022, with Qatar and South Korea solely bidding for 2022. However inside six months of the race beginning, all non-European bids for 2018 dropped out to concentrate on 2022, with the European bids going the opposite means.

The opposite indeniable element to recollect is that eight of the 9 bids had compatriots on the ExCo — an individual representing their nationwide soccer associations who sat at FIFA’s excessive desk. England, for instance, had Geoff Thompson; the US had Chuck Blazer, a shameless criminal who would ultimately turn into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s inside man on ExCo. Solely Australia lacked one. The upshot of all this was to make the potential of vote-trading between the bids a racing certainty.

After the 9 bids had formally dedicated to the method in March 2009, the following key date was December 2009 when the “soccer household” gathered in Cape City for the 2010 World Cup draw and the worldwide launch of the 2018 and 2022 bids. After that, the bids needed to finalise plans by Could 2010, with FIFA’s technical evaluation workforce visiting every bid between July and September. And the end line was the ultimate shows and votes at FIFA’s Zurich HQ throughout December 1-2.


Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al-Thani, chairman of Qatar’s bid committee, presents Blatter with the Qatar bid guide in Could 2010 (Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Photos)

Sadly, not all 24 members of the ExCo made it that far. Nigeria’s Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti had been banned from participating by FIFA’s ethics committee — no, severely — after they tried to promote their votes to undercover reporters from The Sunday Occasions posing as consultants for the US bid. This lowered the citizens to 22.

By way of indeniable details, we’re most likely solely left with the outcomes of the votes. FIFA used an “exhaustive balloting” process, which suggests its voters went to the sales space one spherical at a time. The key voting continued till one bid had a majority, 12 votes or extra, with the worst-performing bid in every spherical eradicated.

Simply as the choice to run two processes without delay after which cut up them into two teams had created the right circumstances for collusion, the exhaustive balloting technique added the prospect of strategic voting to the combination.

For instance, within the first spherical of the 2018 course of, Russia received 9 votes, Spain/Portugal seven, Belgium/Holland 4 and England two. No majority, England out. However within the second spherical, Russia obtained a successful whole of 13, Spain/Portugal seven and Belgium/Holland two, which suggests the latter’s help halved and two voters within the first spherical backed a bid they didn’t consider was the very best out there.

It was the identical story within the 2022 vote, the place Qatar’s vote totals went 11, 10, 11 and, lastly, 14, to beat the US’s eight within the fourth spherical. However the reality their help went from 11 to 10 within the second spherical suggests one voter was not adhering to the spirit of the event. Japan’s whole additionally fell from three within the first spherical to 2 within the second.

Regardless of the failings within the course of, Qatar’s bid beat America’s 14-8 and everybody went house glad that democracy had been accomplished.

Just a little later, 15 of the 22 voters had been both banned or suspended by FIFA, investigated by home legislation enforcement businesses, named in indictments or pleaded responsible to years of corruption, however none of that was ever straight linked to Qatar’s triumph.

Solely Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast), Senes Erzik (Turkey), Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium), Marios Lefharitis (Cyprus), Junji Ogura (Japan), Hany Abo Rida (Egypt) and Geoff Thompson (England) weren’t banned by soccer’s world governing physique. Earlier this yr, Issa Hayatou (Cameroon) had a one-year suspension by FIFA overturned by the Court docket of Arbitration for Sport.

So no extra was ever stated about any of it ever once more, proper?

Fooled you? No, I think not.


OK, how did they actually win it, then? To reply that we have now to maneuver from agreed details to contested claims, and there are such a lot of of these it’s laborious to know the place to begin.

Nevertheless it also needs to be said that so far as the Qataris are involved, the story actually is that straightforward.

They’d say they turned the perceived weaknesses of their bid — Qatar’s cramped dimensions, the quantity it needed to construct and its lack of soccer pedigree — into virtues by stressing that theirs can be a “compact” event, performed in state-of-the-art stadiums, linked by gleaming transport infrastructure, and this may be a World Cup of firsts and new horizons.

And whereas a few of you’ll be rolling your eyes, it’s one other undisputed undeniable fact that many of the voters didn’t pay any consideration to the “excessive threat” technical evaluation Qatar was given — by far the worst among the many 9 bidders. Every bidding nation is assessed by FIFA for 3 issues: “bid compliance”, an general threat evaluation and a technical analysis.


Qatar and Russia had been chosen to host the 2022 and 2018 World Cups on the identical day in 2010 (Picture: Mike Hewitt – FIFA/FIFA by way of Getty Photos)

Some, nonetheless, did reply favourably to Qatar’s “imaginative and prescient”.

The very best expression of that got here within the speech Sheikha Mozah, the emir’s spouse, made in Zurich the day earlier than the vote. “When do you assume is the best time for this to come back to the Center East?” she requested. “Nicely, girls and gents, the time has come. The time is now.”

It was speech however former US Division of Justice spokesman Matthew Miller, who was a part of the US bid delegation in Zurich, doesn’t purchase the concept any ExCo minds had been modified by the ultimate presentation.

“(The voters) simply needed to have a narrative they may inform to account for the actual causes, the over and below the desk vote-buying that was occurring,” Miller tells The Athletic.

Bonita Mersiades, the Australian bid’s former head of communications, agrees.

“We tried to play the bidding sport the identical means as Qatar, however not as strategically, not with pockets as deep,” she explains.

“We had been all the time instructed by our bid consultants that you just wanted to do this stuff effectively — the bid guide, the technical inspection, the ultimate presentation and so forth — however none of them counted. What counted had been ‘intangible issues’… the offers, counter-deals and double offers that go on behind closed doorways.”

Many of those intangible issues had been addressed within the 353-page report former US lawyer Michael J Garcia undertook between 2012 and 2014 in his capability because the chairman of the investigative department of FIFA’s ethics committee.


‘The time is now,’ stated Sheikha Mozah (Picture: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Photos)

The American was appointed after 18 months of allegations about how Qatar and Russia — however particularly Qatar — had purchased the World Cup. The claims simply stored coming and it appeared solely a matter of time earlier than one would land that might power FIFA to reopen the choice course of.

However Garcia didn’t uncover the essential piece of proof FIFA would have wanted to defend itself from a Qatari lawsuit. Qatar would say — and has, many instances — that he didn’t discover it as a result of it doesn’t exist.

Others, nonetheless, dismissed Garcia’s investigation as a whitewash, saying he was hamstrung from the start by an absence of cooperation from key individuals and the boundaries of his powers. This view gained foreign money throughout the weird 32-month hole between Garcia ending the report and the remainder of us seeing it.

Citing unspecified authorized issues, German decide Hans-Joachim Eckert, the chairman of the adjudicatory arm of FIFA’s ethics committee, refused to publish the entire thing in November 2014 and launched his personal 42-page abstract of Garcia’s work, which chastised the Australian and English bids greater than Qatar’s. Garcia promptly dismissed it as a misrepresentation of his views.

With mounting calls to publish the report from throughout soccer, FIFA’s ExCo ultimately agreed to take action however solely after the varied investigations into people recognized by Garcia as potential wrongdoers had been accomplished. As this concerned potential legal expenses, this may take time.

In the meantime, Qatar’s maintain on the World Cup grew as each new building milestone was ticked off and most followers misplaced curiosity. Even the belated choice to maneuver the event out of the Gulf’s blast-furnace summer season to the extra comfy climes of November and December, inflicting havoc for a lot of home leagues, was greeted with resigned shrugs.

And when FIFA did launch the Garcia report in July 2017 — the day after German newspaper Bild had introduced it had obtained its arms on a duplicate — it was a crushing anti-climax for these ready to see Qatar within the dock.

Garcia did, nonetheless, observe that Qatar’s bid had a degree of governmental help that nobody else may match. Certain, each nation needed to conform to FIFA’s procuring checklist of authorized and monetary ensures, and everybody’s head of state did their bit, however the Qatar bid was very clearly a state undertaking of the best significance.


The notion that Qatar’s bid was utilizing its authorities’s monetary muscle was based mostly on occasions such because the emir’s conferences with Brazil’s president and three South American ExCo members (Julio Grondona of Argentina, Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz and Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira, who stays the topic of a US extradition order) in Rio in 2010. It’s straightforward to see how folks would possibly assume this when you think about that this trio of voters had been later discovered to have been taking bungs on many different football-related offers for many years, Argentina and Brazil performed a profitable pleasant in Doha per week earlier than the World Cup vote and Qatar Airways quickly opened routes to Argentina and Brazil.

One other instance is the well timed deal Qatargas did with Thailand to renegotiate a contract for supplying liquified pure fuel (Qatar’s best useful resource) — and the obvious involvement of Thai ExCo member Worawi Makudi’s advisor. The Qatari sovereign wealth fund shopping for a strip of land in Cyprus for £27million ($32.2m utilizing as we speak’s conversion charges) was one other transaction that raised eyebrows because the land belonged to the household of ExCo member Marios Lefkaritis. Makudi, Lefkaritis and the Qataris deny there’s any hyperlink between these offers and the World Cup vote.

After which there’s the story of UEFA president and FIFA vice-president Michel Platini altering his thoughts about voting for the US bid days after French president Nicholas Sarkozy invited him to a lunch on the Elysee Palace that was additionally attended by the present emir Sheikh Tamim Al Thani, then the crown prince, and Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim.

The French soccer legend has all the time stated no one requested him to vote for Qatar as a substitute as a result of they didn’t have to: Platini had already labored out it could be in France’s pursuits if he did and, anyway, he now believed the time was proper for giving the Center East a go. The details that Qatar’s sovereign fund then purchased Sarkozy’s favorite workforce Paris Saint-Germain, turning them right into a superpower, Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports activities invested enormous sums in Ligue 1, and Qatar Airways purchased 50 French-made Airbus planes, amongst different main Qatari investments in France, are coincidental, apparently.

All of those tales, and plenty of extra, are expertly instructed in FIFA Uncovered, the four-part documentary concerning the 2010 vote and the impression it had on FIFA that Netflix has simply launched. In it, US Soccer govt Kevin Payne says: “I do consider that (Qatar) carried out some enterprise at a worldwide degree with folks to assist safe their votes. Whether or not you name that corrupt or not, I imply, that’s simply the way in which worldwide enterprise will get accomplished.”

However Hassan Al-Thawadi, the chief govt of Qatar’s bid and now the secretary basic of the World Cup’s organising committee, rejects the declare that Qatar leaned on ExCo members’ nationwide governments to affect their votes.


Members of the FIFA Exco in Zurich in 2010 (Picture: Michael Regan/Getty Photos)

“What geopolitical offers? What offers? Gasoline offers between whom?” he asks. “The details are on the bottom. Some issues are extraordinarily unrealistic. That is our pure useful resource, it’s one thing we’re constructing our future on, it’s not going to be utilised for the sake of a vote for a World Cup.

“It feeds into the stereotype of Arab sheikhs throwing cash about, doesn’t it? This is the reason this World Cup is vital. We have to break down that stereotype.

“We abided by the foundations. We abided by our ethical values. We received on the deserves of the bid, on the deserves of the imaginative and prescient that that is the time for the primary World Cup within the Arab world, within the Muslim world.”

Al-Thawadi is equally dismissive when requested about probably the most critical allegation the bid, and him personally, confronted within the aftermath of the vote. That may be a declare from former bid employees member Phaedra Almajid that he provided three African ExCo members $1.5million (£1.3m) in improvement grants for his or her nationwide associations in return for his or her help. If true, this was a transparent breach of the foundations.

Almajid’s story first emerged in The Sunday Occasions in 2011 and was then repeated within the British parliament. However simply because the story was gaining world traction, the Qataris introduced that the whistleblower had retracted her claims, signing an affidavit to that impact. However that was not the tip of it, as she then instructed Garcia she had been coerced into that retraction and stood by her unique declare.

The Netflix documentary retells this story at size however doesn’t point out that Garcia’s report dismissed her account as unreliable. Al-Thawadi merely calls it “inherently false”.

The place Qatar’s bid did get some criticism from Garcia was in its use of undeclared “consultants” and the quite a few all-expenses-paid journeys to the Aspire Academy, an elite efficiency centre in Doha, that had been dished out to nationwide groups and membership sides linked to ExCo members.

“At a minimal, the focusing on of Aspire-related sources to curry favour with Govt Committee members created the looks of impropriety,” wrote Garcia. “These actions served to undermine the integrity of the bidding course of.”

He was additionally unimpressed with the Qatar bid’s choice to sponsor the African Soccer Confederation’s Congress in Angola in January 2010. For Al-Thawadi and co, this was a sport changer because it gave the bid a golden alternative to inform Africa’s 54 soccer federations, and the 4 ExCo voters within the room, that the Center East deserved the identical breakthrough second African soccer can be getting on the World Cup in South Africa that summer season.

However Garcia’s was a light rebuke and even Qatar’s bid rivals instructed him they thought the Gulf state had been “good” in recognizing a “loophole” within the guidelines about what you can and couldn’t sponsor.

And that’s the impression you get from a lot of his report. Sure, Qatar spent some huge cash on friendlies and coaching camps, pampering visiting ExCo members and travelling the world to ship speeches and dish out presents, however all of the bids — bar maybe the squeaky-clean Belgians and Dutch — did a few of that.

The Qataris might also have traded a bloc of Asian votes for seven European/South American votes commanded by the Spain/Portugal bid, as was broadly rumoured on the time of the vote. However Qatar has denied it, no one has provide you with conclusive proof on the contrary and different bids, together with England’s, undoubtedly did attempt to commerce votes too.

It is usually attention-grabbing that the Netflix documentary, which references nearly each different allegation ever made about Qatar’s bid, doesn’t subscribe to one of many early theories that their ExCo insider, Asian Soccer Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed bin Hammam, was the person who purchased his nation the World Cup.

That is the central thought in The Ugly Sport, the 2015 bestseller by Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert, The Sunday Occasions journalists behind the “FIFA Recordsdata” splash that broke on the eve of the 2014 World Cup. These information had been really thousands and thousands of paperwork and emails hacked from an AFC server and so they appeared to point out that Bin Hammam, a soccer fan who made a fortune in Doha’s building growth, “was the true architect of Qatar’s astonishing and inconceivable victory”.

This concept, nonetheless, has been challenged by more moderen accounts, who agree with Garcia, the Qatar bid and Bin Hammam himself that any funds he made to soccer officers — and he doesn’t dispute that — had been to additional his ambition of changing Blatter as FIFA president in 2011. They had been to not assist Qatar’s bid, which he initially noticed as a waste of money and time. In actual fact, it has even been prompt that he may not have voted for Qatar.

That’s unlikely, to be frank, however the truth that some concerned with the Qatari bid consider it’s telling.

In fact, as soon as the emir had made it clear that Bin Hammam wanted to get on board with the undertaking in 2010, he did assist the Qatari bid with entry to his ExCo colleagues and intel on FIFA’s opaque methods. He additionally ensured that Oceania’s promised vote for Australia can be off the desk when he inspired Temarii, one of many two ExCo members caught by The Sunday Occasions sting, to attraction towards his suspension — so he was unable to vote — and instructed him he would underwrite his authorized prices.


Mohamed bin Hammam didn’t find yourself succeeding Blatter (Picture: Pressefoto Ulmerullstein bild by way of Getty Photos)

And, in one other story retold by Netflix, he would supply another service to Qatar in 2011 when he went to Zurich, below the emir’s orders, to withdraw from the 2011 presidential race, leaving Blatter unopposed for a fourth time period. The quid professional quo, it’s claimed, was that Blatter would let Qatar maintain its World Cup.

Fats lot of excellent it did Bin Hammam, although. Blatter would see to it that his former ally can be banned from soccer for all times in 2012.


In 2015, the occasions set working by the seismic shock of naming Qatar as a World Cup host would end result within the excessive drama of the daybreak raid on the Baur au Lac Lodge, arrests, responsible pleas and the close to collapse of FIFA itself. 4 days after successful a fifth time period as FIFA president, Blatter would announce his resignation — the value FIFA needed to pay to cease US legislation enforcement from treating it just like the Mafia — and he, too, can be banned from soccer by the tip of the yr.

FIFA remains to be attempting to get better from the scandals uncovered by the varied investigations that solely actually took off after Blatter pulled Qatar’s card from the envelope. And it’s nonetheless rumbling on: this week, a London court docket dominated towards former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, a member of the 2010 ExCo, in his bid to attraction his extradition from Trinidad and Tobago to the US to face expenses of fraud, racketeering and bribery over three many years. Warner, 79, denies any wrongdoing.

There’s a likelihood that the on a regular basis corruption on the prime of soccer, which began below Havelange within the Seventies however grew to become endemic on Blatter’s watch, would have attracted concerted, multi-national police curiosity in some unspecified time in the future, however it was the torrent of anger unleashed on December 2, 2010, that delivered it.

But no one has proved, past affordable doubt, {that a} single one in every of Qatar’s 14 votes was straight or not directly purchased, and a number of the individuals who would know for positive — Grondona, for instance — are actually lifeless.

So, on Sunday, Blatter’s successor and Qatari resident Gianni Infantino will open what he has already determined would be the “finest World Cup ever”.

For 4 weeks, a minimum of, it’d even be true, which can be some achievement after a range course of that dangerous.

(High photograph: Philippe Desmazes/AFP by way of Getty Photos)

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