Life wouldn’t be interesting without a few spy characters. Sunday Times reporters go undercover to root out Fifa corruption.
This is not the first time that two African Fifa committee members have sold their votes. Sunday Times undercover reporters learned from Ismail Bhamjee, a former Fifa executive committee member, that Cameroon and the Ivory Coast accepted bribes from Morocco when that country was bidding against South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. Given the numerous obstacles that could prevent a successful 2022 World Cup in Qatar, its considerable heat chief among them, it might not come as a surprise that the country is accused of offering up to $1.2 million in exchange for votes that might have secured its controversial win.
According to the Sunday Times report, Michel Zen-Ruffinen, a former secretary general of Fifa, introduced the paper’s undercover reporters to a man named Amadou Diallo. Zen-Ruffinen then said that Qatar was “using Diallo to arrange financial deals with the African [Fifa executive committee] members in exchange for World Cup votes.”
Diallo was a senior staff member in the Cameroonian entourage of Issa Hayatou, the Confederation of African Football’s president.
The Sunday Times wrote a letter to John Whittingdale, the chairman of the select committee inquiry into football governance. In it, they explained that Bhamjee told reporters “I’m told the Africans will get … anything from a quarter to half a million dollars,” for their votes. The Guardian wrote that “asked to clarify whether that money was to invest in football or for them personally, Bhamjee reportedly replied: “No, no, no, no. This is on top. This is separate from the football.”
Naturally, both a strategic communications consultant to Qatar 2022, and the Qatar Football Association deny these charges. Mike Lee, who was involved at the highest level of negotiations, claimed he would have sensed whether dodgy negotiations were taking place. And he didn’t. Qatar’s bid team has hired a team of London-based lawyers who call these allegations “completely false.”
Local news suggests that all is not well in Qatar. Not only does the country have to import most of its building materials, but sourcing labor will also be problematic.
Simon Summers, the Dubai-based director of the architecture firm Aedas, told Zawya that “To deliver such high quality design to tight deadlines requires sophisticated contractors with a much higher degree of skilled labor.”
And the “amazing” technologies proposed to keep competitors and viewers are wonderful, and we hope they work, but they have never been commercially tested. In its “Bid Evaluation Report” FIFA said the cooling technology poses a “high” operational risk, according to Zawya.
Soccer fans suspected dirty play from the start. Despite the denials, the Sunday Times has burst Fifa’s protective bubble. We have a few years yet to get to the truth.
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image via Tony the Misfit