THE winning Qatar bid team for the 2022 World Cup allegedly breached rules by launching secret “black propaganda operations” to trash their rivals, it was claimed yesterday. Emails from a whistle blower reportedly show how the Qataris hired a top PR firm to pump out fake news about the US and Australian bids.
It has led to calls for Qatar to be stripped of the right to hold the World Cup in four years.
The campaign by the American firm was said to have recruited people such as academics and teachers to pour scorn on bids by their own countries, suggesting there was little domestic support for the World Cup.f
Strict rules laid down by Fifa, football’s governing body, ban bid teams from making statements about their rivals. The alleged breach has led to speculation Qatar could be stripped of the right to hold the 2022 World Cup.
According to a report yesterday, a US professor was allegedly paid around £7,000 to write a damning report on the economic impact of a successful World Cup bid.
Journalists and bloggers were said to have been recruited to produce negative stories in the US, Australian and global media, the paper claimed.
There were even plans for “Say No to the World Cup” demonstrations by rugby players in Australia, it was alleged. Qatar won the race to stage the tournament ahead of the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
England’s bid for this year’s World Cup, staged in Russia, was crushingly rejected when the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments were announced by Fifa in Zurich in December 2010.
Lord Triesman, former chairman of the Football Association and England bid chairman, urged Fifa to “look at the evidence thoroughly”.
He said Qatar should not be allowed to “hold on to the World Cup” if they were shown to have broken Fifa rules. “I think it would not be wrong for Fifa to reconsider England in those circumstances.
We have been thoroughly investigated and have been forthcoming with all information related to our bid, including the official investigation led by US attorney Michael Garcia.
“We have strictly adhered to all Fifa’s rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process.”
The decision to give the 2022 World Cup to Qatar had caused controversy.
The tiny, oil-rich Arab state had never qualified for the World Cup finals and there were concerns about the intense heat for players and supporters alongside alleged human rights abuses.
The announcement that this year’s tournament would go to Russia was a humiliation for the England bid team who won only two out of a possible 22 votes.
The defeat came after concerted lobbying of Fifa by Prince William, David Beckham and the then PM David Cameron.