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How Qatar won the 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, according to new Netflix docuseries FIFA Uncovered

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadNov 15, 2022 | 17:18

How Qatar won the 2022 FIFA World Cup bid, according to new Netflix docuseries FIFA Uncovered

Netflix docuseries on FIFA reveals dirty truths about Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid. Photo: Getty Images

When you think of football and the FIFA World Cup, you would think of fun, entertainment, Wavin' Flag and Waka Waka. Hardly anybody would find FIFA being synonymous with intergovernmental deals, gas sales, airplane deals, corrupt rats, power struggle, and chameleon executives worse than Indian netas.

But that is exactly the tale that Netflix FIFA Uncovered docuseries tells of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association and the Qatar bid. 

  • The docuseries has also been released conveniently in time for the World Cup 2022 being hosted in Qatar. 
  • In less than 5 days, the World Cup will begin, but the excitement and cheers are not the same. Instead, the allegations of wrongdoing, bribery and deep corruption are getting louder and louder. 

Before we get into what the docuseries says about how Qatar won the bid, let's brush up on our facts:

What: Qatar has been accused of bribing its way through winning the bid to host the 2022 World Cup despite being an unfit country to do so. 

Why unfit: 

  • Qatar is a small country
  • Hot country with temperatures unfit for the sport 
  • No natural infrastructure growth at the time of winning the bid
  • Qatar's football team ranking low globally and has no influence
  • Other better contenders at the time of bidding - US, UK, South Korea, Japan and Australia 

The story according to FIFA Uncovered

We hear several people telling the tale, from former and current people involved in the Qatar bidding, FIFA, and related events. Episode 3 of the docuseries explores deep into the Qatar bid. It is no surprise then that it starts off with the fact that Qatar's win came as a surprise. Apparently, the US had the strongest bid of all.

Chapter 1: Angola 2010 

 

Al Thawadi says it was his moving speech that left a mark. FIFA brought football to Africa; surely it could bring football to the Middle East through Qatar.

But Whistleblower Phaedra Al Majid, who worked for the Qatar bid in 2010, says otherwise. 

 

 

Of course, Qatar and Al Thawadi deny the claims. 

Chapter 2: Mohamed bin Hammam

You see Qatar was new to the world of football; they were inexperienced when it came to global football or FIFA politics.

 

Chapter 3: The French Connection

Did you ask how wild this story can get? Imagination or entirely factual, we don't know, but here it is:

In 2010, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, at the time the Crown Prince, met with the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace.

Nicolas Sarkozy (middle), Qatar Emir (right) and Michel Platini (left). Photo: Getty Images, AFP

There was a third important member present at the meeting - Michel Platini, one of the most influential men in global football, the then-President of the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) and a member of ExCo (the Executive Committee).

  • Reportedly, French President Sarkozy used Platini's FIFA vote for several intergovernmental deals between Paris and Doha. Yes, that's how wild the Qatar FIFA story gets.
  • Platini, in the docuseries, says that there was a "subliminal message" in not so many words. 
  • The Qatari Estate Fund soon bought the Paris Saint-Germain, the main football club of Paris and injected "who knows how much money into it".
  • A Qatari broadcaster bought the TV rights for French football for huge sums of money. 
  • Qatar bought several French Airbus airplanes and there were reportedly several other high-level deals made, all in exchange for a football tournament.
  • France and Qatar also sealed a $7 billion Rafale deal right after this meeting at Elysees Palace. 
Qatar's mascot for FIFA World Cup 2022. Photo: Getty Images

Chapter 4: The other intergovernmental deals

Not just the bilateral deals with France, but allegations point fingers at several countries, from Thailand to Brazil. 

  • A Thailand representative on the ExCo is linked to a gas deal that was signed between Qatar and Thailand. 
  • The Emir of Qatar visited Brazil back then and met the then President Lula (also the President now), who was reportedly in favour of Qatar as the host for 2022 World Cup.
  • Soon enough, Qatar Airways started daily flights to Brazil. 
  • Then, there was the allegation that another FIFA ExCo member, Marios Lefkaritis, sold land to Qatar for 32 million euros.

In a nutshell, Qatar was doing business like no other on the global level, all allegedly for a FIFA tournament. 

FIFA's then President Sepp Blatter has recently said that awarding the bid to Qatar in 2010 was a 'mistake', even though the drama took place while he was on the chair. Reportedly, advisors to Blatter on the docuseries said that he was "cornered completely" by the rest of the FIFA members who sided with Qatar. 

Money was thrown at Sepp Blatter over FIFA corruption allegations. File Photo: AFP

FIFA voted for Qatar as the host when the country wasn't as known as it is today. When there were no stadiums, no hotels for tourists and teams, and the weather naturally did not fit. After all, the FIFA World Cup takes place in June-July every four years; and summer in the desert nation means temperatures ranging from 47-50 degrees Celsius. 

Unlike other countries, which grew their infrastructure organically over the years, Qatar's growth was fast-forwarded by FIFA and great ambitions. But the price of those ambitions was the sweat, tears, blood, and death of migrants who built the dream of the country's rulers, every day while being treated as less than humans. 

Chapter 5: The Climax

In 2011, Qatar's bid which it won in 2010, was at risk of being stripped. 

  • Their go-to man Mohamed bin Hammam was running for FIFA Presidency against Sepp Blatter. And Bin Hammam was caught red-handed giving bribes in exchange for votes. 
  • This is when Qatar's Emir interfered during a meeting and asked Bin Hammam to withdraw from the FIFA Presidential race in exchange for Blatter's silence on the country's bid. 

The story of Qatar and FIFA sounds no less than the workings of an international mafia organisation. But it is worth a wonder... how is a FIFA tournament worth so much?

Last updated: November 15, 2022 | 17:18
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