Should we journalists just accept that England failed in its bid to host the World Cup and move on? At what point is it time to draw a line under these investigations into Fifa?
Sorry for the rhetorical question, but to my mind: not yet. The world football governing body reaches beyond sport in its power to award, every four years, the multibillion-dollar men’s World Cup to a country of its executives’ choosing.
That this tournament should go to Qatar in 2022 seemed, to put it euphemistically, curious at the time: a Gulf state enjoying 50C summers, with little historic interest in the pastime, and intolerant to alcohol or homosexuality.
Shortly after the World Cup was awarded to Qatar, the former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, we learn, was allegedly paid more than £1m by a company owned by a Qatari ex-official (now banned for life from the sport for “conflicts of interest”). The payments were unrelated to the voting, Warner says, and claiming otherwise is to join the “witch-hunt” against victorious Qatar.
Separately, the drumbeat of accusations was heard in Parliament here, when Lord Triesman, chair of England’s failed bid, alleged that four Fifa executive committee members made inappropriate requests during the bidding process.
Maybe Fifa’s chief ethics investigator – not apparently a contradiction in terms – will get on the case.
Fifa’s ability to disgust, if not to surprise, grows. The lack of transparency, the payments to voting executives, the succession of scandals – and now these latest claims – raise searching questions about the conduct of senior officials. Where are their answers?Reuse content