The decision to award 2022 World Cup hosting responsibilities to Qatar has been riddled with controversy, as Amnesty International condemns the conditions of workers in the country and allegations of bribery repeatedly surface within FIFA. Now, reports note, senior officials are considering revoking the bid.
“I certainly as a member of the executive committee would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a re-vote,” said FIFA Vice President Jim Boyce this weekend on BBC Radio. Boyce’s comments follow the publication of a report by The Sunday Times claiming that FIFA chief investigator Michael Garcia had found copious evidence of bribery during negotiations to award the 2022 World Cup.
“If Garcia comes up with concrete evidence and concrete evidence is given to the executive committee and to FIFA, then it has to be looked at very seriously. The FIFA executive committee are 100 percent. He will be allowed to go and speak to anyone from around the world to complete his mission,” Boyce concluded, according to The Washington Post.
Garcia’s report has not yet been released, and other officials, The Guardian notes, “are understood to be considering their response if the report recommends a new vote in light of new claims based on hundreds of millions of leaked emails and documents.” The Sunday Times claims that Garcia’s investigation found that “$5 million in cash, gifts and legal fees to senior football officials” from the national Qatari soccer administration secured the bid. The committee in charge of organizing the World Cup is scheduled to meet with Garcia Monday.
While the Times is currently offering the most thorough description of what officials exchanged during negotiations to host the tournament, none of the allegations are new. In March, the UK Telegraph reported that a company owned by Mohamed bin Hammam, Qatar’s executive member of FIFA, gave FIFA Vice President Jack Warner $1.2 million and his sons an additional nearly one million dollars. The reasons for such a payment were unclear; some documents claimed that Warner offered “professional services,” while another suggested the payments were “to offset legal and other expenses.”
The Sunday Times allegations also involve bin Hammam, though the newspaper contends that the executive distributed a total of $5 million to various officials to secure their votes.
Should FIFA move the tournament, Japan has already offered to take the responsibilities of hosting at short notice. Japan lost to Qatar for a bid to host the tournament.
Qatar is not only facing accusations of bribery, but evidence has surfaced that the government is using migrant workers as “virtual slaves” to construct stadiums and other facilities for the tournament. Migrant workers are forced to work in dangerous conditions for unreasonable hours at a time, and, according to Amnesty International, they are often not given the salaries promised and are starved to death. Others are captives of the exit-visa system, in which employers must give permission for a migrant worker to be allowed in the country and vice versa, ensuring a worker may not leave Qatar without permission.