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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Meanwhile, at the 2022 World Cup

As the games get underway in Brazil for the 2014 World Cup, the row over the 2022 venue rumbles on.

In addition to the corruption allegations the Sunday Times reports that other considerations should have ruled Qatar out as a host country. The paper says that a report handed to Fifa officials 17 days before the decision was taken said that the Gulf state was the only one of the nine countries bidding for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments where there was a “high risk” of a terrorist attack shutting down the event:

Fifa’s 24-man executive committee (Exco) was briefed on the report written by André Pruis, the South African police chief in charge of security at the 2010 World Cup who is now Fifa’s security consultant for this summer’s tournament in Brazil.

World football’s governing body is facing further questions about why Exco chose Qatar — with virtually no football infrastructure and prohibitive summer temperatures of 50C — to host the 2022 tournament despite being warned that players and fans would be at risk of a “major incident” in the  tiny Gulf state.

While other bid nations were assessed as low to moderate, Pruis concluded: “In view of the risks ... Qatar is allocated a risk rating of high. I am of the view that it would be very difficult to deal with a major incident in such an environment without having to cancel the event.”

The paper also reveals details of more confidential documents it has obtained:

Fresh documents unearthed from the Fifa files last week also reveal how:
— The chief executive of Qatar’s 2022 bid arranged a lawyer for the disgraced football chief, Mohamed bin Hammam, bankrolled his private jet while he was campaigning to be Fifa president, and sent him a draft public statement despite repeatedly claiming Bin Hammam was an “entirely separate” individual.
— While probing alleged corruption in Qatar’s bid, Fifa’s top investigator, Chris Eaton, began talking to Qatari officials about their plans for a multimillion-pound security centre — where he is now chief investigator. He also received a “wonderful” watch and cufflinks from the country’s ruling emir after it won the 2022 vote.
— And the same investigator penned a confidential intelligence “brief” on Exco members as he departed for his new job in Qatar, branding 11 of the 24 men as “untrustworthy” or “completely untrustworthy” and describing the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, as “greedy and manipulative”.

Surely there is a case not just to revisit this decision but also to dismantle and rebuild Fifa as a more accountable and democratic body.

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