Could corruption cost Qatar the World Cup?


Photo: AS&P architects

The football tournament is a potentially huge boost for a country’s economy and tourist industry, if everything goes smoothly to plan.

It can also be a strain on a country, though, with new stadiums and infrastructure required to stage the event. With the 2014 World Cup now just days away, Brazil is racing to try and have facilities finished in time. Qatar, meanwhile, has already begun development, which is expected to bring expats into the country seeking career opportunities and skilled work. But earlier this year, it reduced the number of stadiums it planned to build by a third amid rising costs and delays.

The country planned to build 12 stadiums for the games, but has cut that number down to eight.

Now, though, the entire arrangements for the event in eight years’ time have been put in jeopardy by claims of corruption from The Sunday Times . The newspaper reported that it has secret documents showing the former Asian Football Confederation president allegedly obtaining votes from football’s governing body to stage the cup via illicit means.

The accusations primarily involve former Fifa official Mohamed bin Hammam, who allegedly lobbied on Qatar’s behalf at least a year before the voting began. Qatar defeated competition from South Korea, Japan, Australia and the United States to host the cup, thanks to alleged payments of £3 million made to officials for their support.

The claims are now being investigated by FIFA investigator and New York lawyer Michael Garciam who will complete his report one week today.

AFC officials have denied any wrongdoing, while others have said that if proven correct, there should be a re-vote for the 2022 World Cup host.

FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce told the BBC : “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.”

As investigations in the alleged payments continue, so does the development work trying to build Qatar’s World Cup dreams. The question is: how much will the tournament cost Qatar in the end?