A bought World Cup? 2010, suspicions of corruption hang over Qatar

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Since the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, the gas emirate is suspected of having bought the competition. The Swiss, American and French justices are investigating this case in connection with the huge corruption scandal that has affected Fifa since 2015.

In 2010, no one bet a penny on the Qatari bid to organize the 2022 World Cup. However, it is indeed the small gas emirate which organizes the biggest football competition from November 20 to December 18. Since this reversal of the situation in its favor, Qatar is suspected of having bought the vote of the executive committee of Fifa, mobilizing the Swiss, American and French justices.

The small emirate is far from being the first organizing country suspected of corruption, since doubts hang over the World Cup-2018 in Russia, the World Cup-2010 in South Africa and even more the World Cup-2006 in Germany, which has not escaped a judgment in Switzerland only because of the prescription that occurred in the middle of the trial. But the Qatari dossier has taken on particular importance for two reasons: its temporal coincidence with the vast scandal which decapitated the FIFA executive in 2015, and the intensity of the political and economic ties forged by Qatar, particularly with France. , subject to possible compensation for obtaining European votes.

American criticism and an internal investigation

From the surprise victory of Qatar against the United States in the fourth round of voting, on December 2, 2010, American President Barack Obama had criticized a “bad decision” and the Anglo-American press cried rigging.

Not only did this gas microstate lack the necessary infrastructure and had virtually no sporting tradition, but its scorching climate had to move the tournament to the fall, when the European championships are in full swing.

In August 2012, the Investigative Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee initiated an investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 Worlds, led by former US prosecutor Michael Garcia.

But when it submitted its report in November 2014, the adjudicatory chamber recognized no evidence of corruption, relevant only to “questionable behavior”, to the chagrin of Michael Garcia.

A complaint was filed at the end of 2014 with the Swiss justice system, which has been investigating since May 2015 for “money laundering and unfair management”, in parallel with multiple scandals linked to world football.

FIFAgate takes it all away

Because in the spring of 2015, suspicions around Qatar took on a new dimension with the arrest by the Swiss police of seven senior football leaders on the sidelines of the FIFA congress, at the request of the American authorities.

The affair – essentially relating to accusations of corruption linked to the allocation of marketing rights and TV rights to South American competitions – has however, formally, nothing to do with the vote of December 2010.

But a cascade of disciplinary and judicial investigations have since banished, even imprisoned, almost all of the voters of 2010 and ended up winning the president of Fifa at the time, Sepp Blatter.

Finally, in an April 2020 indictment, a New York court mentions among other charges possible bribes received by five former members of the Executive Committee in exchange for their votes for Russia (World-2018) and Qatar, without the case having been tried since.

A French scandal?

Since 2019, French justice has been investigating on its side for “active and passive corruption” on a lunch held on November 23, 2010 between Nicolas Sarkozy, then President of the Republic, two senior Qatari leaders and Michel Platini, at the time boss of the ‘.

The challenge is to understand whether compensation was negotiated with Qatar in exchange for the vote of Michel Platini, who brought the four European votes to the emirate after having possibly supposed to support the United States.

However, Qatar’s relations with France under the Sarkozy presidency provide the investigations with a complex backdrop: six months after this lunch, in May 2011, Paris SG was bought by the Qatari fund QSI for 76 million euros in American fund Colony Capital, managed in France by a close associate of Nicolas Sarkozy.

In a joint investigation broadcast on October 13, France Télévision and Radio France also revealed a note from the Élysée’s diplomatic unit for lunch on November 23, 2010, planning to address, in addition to the World Cup, the subjects “aircraft “combat” and “global missile defense”.

Questioned, the former secretary general of the Élysée Claude Guéant confirmed “discussions with Qatar” on the sale of Rafale planes finally concluded in 2015, under the presidency of François Hollande, but dismissed any link with the attribution of the World.

With AFP


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