So you’ll have seen the news over the last few days reporting emails and documents showing payments from Qatar to various FIFA representatives. They later voted for Qatar’s ridiculous bid to host a month-long outdoor event with 32 teams of fit men and thousands of overweight men in the peak of summer. If that FIFA decision wasn’t bad enough, Qatar is now paying for doing what is necessary to get such a tournament: bribery.
Qatar is getting a hammering in the international news right now. It is wholly unprepared for this kind of scrutiny. Public scrutiny of the state and particularly the officials is amost non-existent within the country. Sure there are complaints but they are dealt with by knowing an individual who will fix it. The same nepotism runs through the whole country. Favours are traded, credit is secured and public criticism is rare. The local newspaper is merely a self-congratulatory, promotional tool. The TV states only good news inside the country. Crime is non-existent. The murder of the an English teacher last autumn is unmentioned in the media because it was perpetrated by a Qatar. However the mugging of three Emirati in London is big news.
International media doesn’t kowtow like this and the European media encouraged by UEFA are keen on an FIFA expose. Qatar’s been caught in the middle. It did what wa expected. It undoubtedly paid bribes. Russia did the same. Brazil also. The corruption in the game in Brazil is well-known and led to the downfall of Teixeira and the disgrace of Havelange, the former FIFA president. Blatter is not ready to accept his responsibility for any corruption. He may be innocent himself (in this case) but the whole vote-buying is rampant and shambolic in his organisation. Yet he sees himself as a broom rather than a tool.
Qatar is also taking a beating on his workforce rights. Passports are surrendered. Wages are often unpaid. Workers do sleep 8 to a room on the outside of the city. They are customarily barred from parts of the social scene. The economic system is completely biased to the local Qatari for obvious reasons. But the legal system suffers the same issues. Within a secretive and stubborn state like Saudi Arabia that is understandable, if not forgivable. But Qatar wants to be seen as a model of Islamic values and has put its head above the parapet. It’s getting shot at and doesn’t know how to deflect the bullets.
The FIFA inquiry will be a shambles. Qatar has already spent billions building infrastructure. FIFA and Qatar stand to lose big time. Qatar will be humiliated. Its neighbours will snigger. Qatar won’t sue. It did the deed and won’t want to face up to public scrutiny. The real issue is FIFA. To get such a tournament, vote-buying is the way, whether it be a football pitch, a 7-star hotel, hookers (ask Korean Air how Seoul got the 1988 Olympics) or just wads of cash.
Football is a game I grew up playing. The so-called beautiful game, played on streets, parks and against terrace walls. You really don’t need much. Qatar is paying the financial and public price for FIFA’s practices. FIFA will survive, blame a few bad eggs and then move on to continue furnishing the financial juggernaut that was our beautiful game.