From the announcement to the preparations for one of the world’s largest sporting events, Qatar’s World Cup has been constantly surrounded in controversy. The media landscape has been covered in stories detailing allegations of Qatari officials bribing FIFA officials to “buy” the World Cup, accounts of a modern slave state where migrant workers are imprisoned in slums and face the daily risk of death and the predictions of the highly unsafe conditions for players and fans.
At the center of this controversy has been the president of FIFA Joseph Sepp Blatter.
In addition to the 2022 World Cup fiasco, FIFA has been embroiled in debates over Blatter’s competence as president and his future role in the international sports powerhouse. Despite the turmoil surrounding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the organizing body of the World Cup and its leader, FIFA has remained publicly supportive of the Persian Gulf State hosting the World Cup.
However, Spiegel International recently published an article quoting an anonymous source who said that Sepp Blatter criticized Qatar and questioned whether the country would end up hosting the World Cup after all. According to Speigel‘s anonymous source, when Blatter was asked about the 2022 World Cup he replied by calling Arabs “arrogant” and saying they thought “they could buy anything with their money.” According to the anonymous source, Blatter claimed that Qatar had been funding the Islamic state terrorist militia and that “the World Cup will not take place in Qatar.”
Qatar’s policy on journalism critical of their government or ruling family is less than tolerable. According to Freedom House, “local reporters often receive warnings and threats when they push the limits of permissible coverage, non-citizens employed by Qatari media outlets risk harsher repercussions, including termination, deportation, and imprisonment.”
The information from this anonymous source, while directly critical of the FIFA president, also paints a poor picture of Qatar. For a person of high profile as Sepp Blatter to make the allegations that the Qatari government, one that has made efforts to present itself as a progressive, westernized Arab state, is funding a terrorist militia undermines the credibility of the government and its ability to host the World Cup.
The Qatari government responded to the allegations denying any involvement in terrorist funding and stating that they are working with Western and Arab intelligence agencies to support moderate militants. They went as far as launching a counter-attack claiming that the bribing allegations were an attempt to disrupt an investigation by former New York attorney Michael Garcia.
While rumors still circulate about the alleged wrongdoings of the Qatari government and FIFA’s role in it, preparations for the World Cup are still under way in Qatar. It remains to be seen how Qatar’s government handles the international negative press and how it affects FIFA’s stance on the 2022 sporting event. As events unfold, I expect many other media outlets will use anonymous sources to spare any sources from retaliation from Qatar’s government.
For further information on the bribery allegations, watch this CNN report:
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