Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup has been cast in more doubt after new corruption allegations came to light involving the vote that awarded the tournament’s hosting rights to the Middle Eastern nation.
As if FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s recent admission that it was a mistake to award the World Cup to Qatar wasn’t bad enough, a recent report from the UK Sunday Times indicated that former Asian Football Confederation president and bribery expert Mohammed bin Hammam paid more than $5 million to FIFA officials to sway their votes ahead of tournament voting back in 2010.
UK sportsbook Gala Coral suspended betting on whether Qatar would lose its hosting rights. Prior to the Times’ revelations of Bin Hammam’s antics, spokesman John Hill told Bloomberg that the company had offered odds as high as 5/1 that Qatar would lose the rights. Then the proverbial bombshell dropped, forcing Gala to suspend betting.
But Gala’s concern over having to pay out a “five-figure sum” on those odds isn’t the worst case scenario here, as Qatar isn’t going to acquiesce without a fight. Qatar-based companies’ share prices tumbled following the Times’ report and, with billions tied into various projects throughout the desert emirate, investors depending on the World Cup likely won’t give up until they’ve exhausted their legal options.
As for FIFA, the timing of these revelations couldn’t have come at a worse time as it prepares to open the 2014 World Cup in Brazil next week. But after years of corruption allegations within the sport’s governing body, you can make a case that FIFA’s finally getting its karmic payback.