Qatar Bought the World Cup from FIFA

Sara Harris, Editor-in-Chief, Junior

The Federation of International Football (FIFA) was once the subject of numerous controversies regarding alleged bribery, the 2010 FIFA World Cup host selection process, and the 2011 FIFA presidential election. More than a decade later, the organization is once again under scrutiny.
The announcement of Qatar for the 2022 World Cup host country drew immense disapproval. Many critics condemned Qatar for its treatment of migrant workers, views on same-sex partnerships, and what appears to be a brazen attempt to improve its reputation through “the beautiful game.” While those critiques may be merited, one popular charge — corruption— is more intricate.

As defined by many, corruption is all behavior devoid of virtue. However, in recent years, the focus has shifted from a moral standpoint to a transactional one. While many corruption analysts aren’t thrilled with this development, it’s become the general method of employment. As a result, scholars now assess corruption as a process with several established parts.
First, corruption is deliberate. It cannot be accidental. Second, corruption involves abusive behavior. Third, corruption encompasses a breach of entrusted power and unethical use of said power or authority. And lastly, corruption must involve some form of personal gain.
So, is FIFA implicated in the crimes of Qatar?
Mohammed bin Hammam, once a high-ranking member of FIFA’s executive cabal before being excommunicated, has been implicated again for lobbying on behalf of Qatar in advance of the 2010 election that awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar over the United States. The Times report from Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake claims to have obtained “millions of secret documents” that implicate Bin Hammam’s role in buying votes for Qatar to win the World Cup bid.
FIFA, however, portrayed itself as the victim in all of this. When authorities seized over $201 million from the accounts of former officials participating in bribery, money laundering, and kickback schemes, the US subsequently gave back the funds to FIFA as compensation.
To quell further criticisms in 2018, FIFA attempted to revise how it governed itself. An Independent Governance Committee would oversee it and make final recommendations to FIFA’s Executive Committee. The aim was to help avoid corruption scandals in the future. However, Mark Pieth, a law professor and one of the architects of the mandate, claimed that the supposed modernization under current FIFA head Gianni Infantino was inadequate.
As Pieth notes in the New York Times, “They’re simply not up to regulating themselves.”
Additionally, as of Tuesday, December 13, Belgian prosecutors have arrested and charged four individuals with corruption, money laundering, and participation in a criminal organization on behalf of an unnamed “Gulf State,” which media sources and various members of the European Assembly have identified as Qatar.
In a statement provided by TIME, the federal prosecutor’s office wrote, “It is suspected that third parties in political and/or strategic positions within the European Parliament were paid large sums of money or offered substantial gifts to influence Parliament’s decisions.”
Thus any speculation involving the validity of bribery can no longer continue, as Qatar unequivocally bought the right to host this World Cup. And with these allegations finding credible truth, FIFA must also be held accountable for their actions.
The organization has endorsed human rights violations and suppression of free speech and rewarded a nation responsible for the death of thousands of immigrants. I have no doubt FIFA was fully aware of the atrocities committed in preparation for this tournament and to sacrifice morals to the highest bidder.
FIFA is corrupt and has been for decades. Now the question now is: how do we rectify a situation still under speculation?