The exhaustive exposé from the Sunday Times into alleged corruption around Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup looks like another bad day at the office for FIFA President Sepp Blatter.. But is it?
Could this actually be an opportunity for the man who, only last month, admitted that selecting Qatar in the first place was a ‘mistake’?
On the face of it, the eleven pages of coverage appear to add insult to the scars suffered by both FIFA and Blatter since decision day, but what if these revelations were the consequence of some ingenious positioning from Sepp Blatter himself?
Before I go any further, I should say this is all conspiracy theory from what is clearly a warped mind, but think about it. FIFA have been ridiculed for the decision to select Qatar from the moment the envelope was opened. The technical report delivered to – and supposedly read by – the Executive Committee members who voted, said something to the effect that the temperature in Qatar in the summer months meant there was a serious health risk for both the players and the fans.*
The weather is ridiculous, the country itself has no football tradition or heritage, but it does have plenty of money.
The decision is clearly wrong on so many levels and now Blatter has admitted it. But FIFA can’t take the tournament away from Qatar just because they now concede their supposedly democratic voting process resulted in the wrong choice. There has to be a valid, watertight reason and now, FIFA and Sepp Blatter potentially have one, courtesy it seems, of the Sunday Times.
So where did the newspaper get their information from? We can, of course, only speculate, but whoever leaked the; “bombshell cache of hundreds of millions of documents” there’s a strong case that FIFA could now use it to rid themselves of their ‘mistake.’ How ironic it would be if Sepp Blatter, the man who vilified the British media at every opportunity during the bidding process was now able to use the type of information he so openly despised, to his own advantage.
What’s also interesting is that the Sunday Times is planning more revelations “in the coming weeks” while Michael Garcia, the man leading the FIFA investigation into the bidding process for both 2018 AND 2022 has said his work will be completed by next week. So does that mean Garcia is already in possession of the information? If not, how could you possibly attempt to conclude such an enquiry with explosive content still to be revealed? But if he DOES have the information, where did he get it from because I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be the Sunday Times.
So currently we have Blatter admitting FIFA’s “mistake” a month ago, The Sunday Times now in mid-stream with their World Exclusive and a FIFA investigation about to be concluded after Garcia’s meeting this week with Qatari officials. For a cynical PR person, it’s an interesting narrative before what could just be an unprecedented decision to strip Qatar of it’s hosting rights. How neat.
And who gets to benefit? Why Sepp does of course! As President, he takes pride in seeing democracy at work and when it doesn’t, he steps in with vigour and determination just like all legendary leaders do. The man who critics say has never taken allegations of bribery seriously enough, can show who’s boss and make a one-man stand against corruption across world football. And all this just before he officially confirms his intention to stand for re-election next year.
It’s an interesting theory and the story will, as they say, run and run. But I must apologise for my overall cynicism. It’s so deep seated, none of this could possibly be true….
* By the way, the report on Russia said their transport infrastructure was unsatisfactory. That was apparently overlooked too.