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August 2021

Fifa and Uefa: the corruption continues. Is it really just limited to the world game?

By Tony Attwood

Ever since the organising countries for the world cups in 2018 and 2022 were announced questions have been asked.  Russia, because (to give just one tiny example) it undertook all of its application work and correspondence on computers that it hired, and then gave back to the company it borrowed them from.  So no history of correspondence could be found when questions were asked.

And then Qatar – well, where to begin?

It was the suspicion of what is known as “private corruption” that led the Swiss judicial authorities to open an investigation on 20 March 2017, into both Jérôme Valcke, former Secretary General of Fifa, already suspended ten years for ” multiple acts of corruption, and Nasser al-Khelaïfi, CEO of beIN Media and also president of Paris Saint-Germain.

Jeremy Valcke is suspected of having “accepted undue benefits […] from Nasser al-Khelaïfi concerning the media rights of the World Cups 2026 and 2030”, according to the statement of the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPC). Valcke, as well as the beIN Media group, has rejected all the charges.

Indirectly, it is another blow to the image of Qatar, Fifa and the football associations world wide, and their sponsors, and the broadcasting companies, all of whom fund Fifa.  They all deny that there is anything amiss.

But it is true to say that as soon as the 2022 World Cup was awarded to the tiny gas state, suspicions were born.   And it’s not just Untold that makes a fuss.

Sepp Blatter always said that the award of the WC to Qatar was not his doing, as he had assured everyone that the USA would get the competition.  He then suggested that it was the intervention of Michel Platini (ex-president of Uefa), who was ordered by Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France to tip the vote in favour of Qatar.

Indeed Platini has never hidden the fact that he voted for Qatar but has always said that “neither Sarkozy nor anyone” had asked him to do so. The Swiss and French courts continue to investigate exactly what happened, and what they ought to do about it.  

Gianni Infantino as new president of Fifa endlessly says that holding the World Cup in Qatar will not be reconsidered, saying, “On Qatar and Russia, these decisions were taken in 2010… Since 2010, there have been noises, allegations, and speculation but for six years there has been nothing concrete. So at one point you have to be pragmatic, you have to look ahead and organize the best world cup of history in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022. “
Chilean Harold Mayne-Nichols, former chairman of the World 2022 Evaluation Commission, first considered Qatar as the riskiest of the five candidate countries before changing its mind. In 2015 he was suspended for seven years by Fifa’s internal justice system for insistently trying to secure places and employment for family members at the Aspire Academy, a school for young sportsmen in Doha.
Shortly after the vote in favour of Qatar, the son of Michel d’Hooghe, a former Belgian member of the Fifa ruling executive, obtained a position in Qatar, while Michel Platini’s son worked for a long time of the QSI group, owner of the PSG. “My son was approached to work for the Qataris not because he is my son but because he is a good lawyer,” Platini told anyone who asked.  

If in 2015 Coca-Cola or Adidas did actually call for reforms at Fifa, nothing has changed. True Emirates Airlines and Sony have indeed ceased their partnership after the 2014 World Cup, replaced by … Qatar Airways, but the decisions, we are told, had been made long before, on “commercial” grounds.

Will the new case Valcke / al-Khelaïfi affect sponsors? The Chinese group Wanda, partner since March 2016, assured Fifa on Friday that it “will continue the agreement with Fifa for the sponsorship of the World Cups, which expires in 2030”.

“We are not going to comment on the procedure against Jerome Valcke and Nasser al-Khelaïfi,” Adidas said. “Nothing has changed in relation to our already known positions: we expect all our partners to … comply with the highest ethical standards, as we ourselves do. ” 
Meanwhile the blockade driven crisis between Doha and several Arab neighbours has lasted nearly five months. On Tuesday again, the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister said that Qatar’s organization of the World 2022 should, “include a rejection of the policy supporting extremism and terrorism”. No suggestion that they might also reject the policy of the use of slave labour however.

Qatar said on Wednesday that it would welcome the World Cup as planned, denouncing the “petty jealousy” of the United Arab Emirates, who try to exploit the Gulf crisis to weaken and tarnish its image.

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Of course if one thinks all of this is fine, and just everyday politicking in football, then that’s that.  But if not, it is just the ongoing example of something rotten right at the heart of the game.  And when that happens the bribery and corruption that keeps the system in place, tends to trickle downwards.

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15 comments to Fifa and Uefa: the corruption continues. Is it really just limited to the world game?

  • MickHazel

    Richarlison has got away with his dive, cheating has paid off. The diving panel have decided there is no case to answer. I wonder what their decision would have been if it had been an Arsenal player who had been cited.
    They have given us a taste of how ineffective the VAR technology is likely to be in reviewing incidents involving decisions against Arsenal.

  • Chris

    By the way, just go look for stories about the nomination of the UNESCO boss that happened last week.
    By all accounts, Qatar who had a candidate were running a show that must have been similar to the one for the World Cup.
    Fact is they did not succeed this time.
    But considering to what length they are going, is it far fetched to imagine they might want to influence by financial means tranferts or referees to win ?!?

  • gouresh

    The irony is that AW will get banned for running behind the ref

  • Nitram


    “They have given us a taste of how ineffective the VAR technology is likely to be in reviewing incidents involving decisions against Arsenal.”

    Agree 100%

    I know for quite a lot of posters on here VAR cannot come quick enough, but I’m dreading it.

    I’ve written a few comments on here in that regard.

    Personally I think it will make things even worse.

    As per Saturdays incident, one cursory look and the penalty will stand. I mean, there’s no guarantee they would even be asked to have a look is there? Who is it would of requested a second look anyway? The ref? Well he’s hardly likely to is he? The panel themselves? Well we know how that ended.

    I don’t know, perhaps someone will be able to tell me?

    On the other hand, you can bet your bottom dollar if the ref missed something that went in our favour someone somewhere would ensure it was reviewed and overturned.

    Look, we all know how it works already. I mentioned on the other thread the elbow that poleaxed Bellerin against Chelsea. I don’t recall anyone saying it was a foul. That goal would of stood.

    I mentioned the ridiculous shove on Bellerin that lead to a goal at Southampton. Both deemed on review by the ‘experts’ as totally legal. That goal would of stood.

    On the other hand we’ve all seen the microscope used to prove minimum contact and a foul by us when it suits.

    we’ve all seen the ‘LINE’ across the pitch to prove us offside, but it’s failure to appear to assist us.

    VAR will be just another weapon in PGMOLs armoury to screw us over.

  • Jax

    ‘I don’t know, perhaps someone will be able to tell me?’
    ‘They’ don’t necessarily have to be asked as they’re monitoring the game in real time, but a referee can (if he’s so inclined) ask for a re-watch of a penalty incident. I think it should be mandatory TBH.

  • Nitram

    Mick Hazel

    As for this:

    “Richarlison has got away with his dive, cheating has paid off”.

    I actually don’t mind, because surely it shows beyond any reasonable doubt the level of bias that exists against us.

    When we complained about the way the media just brushed over it in a way they never would do if it was us, didn’t we have the same old voices telling us to stop being paranoid?

    Didn’t they come on here telling us to stop whinging, and that everyone knows it was a dive. Everyone knows it wasn’t a penalty. The ref made a mistake, it happens. Get over it.

    Didn’t they tell us that?

    Well what have they got to say now?

    Because now we’ve been told by the ‘experts’ on the panel that it WASN’T a dive, when even our detractors agree it was.

    Because now we’ve been told by the ‘experts’ it was a foul, when even our harshest critics could see it wasn’t.

    Because now we’ve been told it WAS a penalty, when even……well you get the picture.

    But apparently there was ‘no case to answer’.

    If anything goes to prove just what we are up against that is it, and these people still insist this bias is in our imagination.

    Well I’d love to hear them explain THAT decision if they can?

  • Nitram


    Mandatory is certainly an option, but to be honest however it is implemented I still have major reservations about it.

    Events of the weekend have certainly done nothing to allay those reservations.

    The only glimmer of hope we could have is if all communications between officials and the panel are open to hear by all, but I cant see that happening can you?

    Whatever, I’m dreading it.

  • Jax

    Yeah, the transparency would be helpful, but I’m in the ‘welcome’ camp and hope everyone gives it a chance. It won’t be 100% perfect and there’s bound to be be issues which the knockers will use to condemn it, but I think it could be the solution we all want.

  • Nitram


    Well I hope you are right because I think it will come eventually, but given the pace the FA/PL move at, maybe not in my lifetime !!

    Alas though, looking at the examples I cited, the portents are not good, because not only do we seem to be refereed to a different set of rules to others, when it comes to judgement by ‘panel’, we also seem to get judged under a different set of rules then.

    Sorry, cant see it working for us in any way shape or form but only time will tell.

  • Menace

    gouresh – not running behind but chastising.

  • Jammy

    Nitram – I get where you’re coming from and I feel similar reservations, but I think having VAR will help put the spot-light on certain incidents. For instance, if a referee makes a wrong decision then this can easily be chalked up as a mistake, due to the fast-tempo of the game. If it was a blatantly wrong decision, yet VAR still agrees with the referee after reviewing it, then, hopefully, people will start asking questions about how that mistake could have possibly been allowed to slip through.

  • Nitram


    The problem is nobody gives flying f*** if Arsenal are being screwed.

    Despite all the evidence produced here that shows how we are screwed, regarding penalties and cards, 2 irrefutable facts based on statistics, as well as the mountains of analysis from the review’s, when I hear the general chitchat in the mess room, apparently we still get all the decisions our way. We are still diving cheats and a bunch of softies and Wenger is still the biggest whinger.

    Basically they swallow the media agenda hook, line and sinker, and everything we get we’ve got coming to us.

    Sure, most reasonable people can see we got screwed are Watford, and at Stoke for that matter, but somehow they see it, not as a travesty, but as justice being served.

    The more we are openly seen to be screwed the more they in fact seem to enjoy it, along with the media.

    So yes VAR will highlight the injustices, but because of the mindset that has been created by Arsenal hating media it’s what we deserve.

    Sorry it is just going to make things worse.

  • Jax

    It’s going to be introduced in this season’s FA Cup. Don’t know at which rounds yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
    My only real concern is that referees will not take to being made to look fools of by an off field system (which is at least part operated by refereeing colleagues).
    I mean would Mike Riley be welcoming of a system that shows ref errors?

  • omgarsenal

    The modern game is so much faster,intense and full of cheats,divers and so on, VAR is essential IF anyone really wants to bring a modicum of integrity, honesty and fairness back into the game. VAR is not the ultimate solution but it can really help a willing official to avoid a serious error before it is too late. It all depends on the technical skill it is applied with.

  • Nitram

    Yes but when it suits ie when against us, they’ll slow it down And stick it under a microscope to confirm it was a foul. Then conversely when Bellerin gets polaxed they’ll just say he got ‘muscled out of it’.

    Sorry no matter what you say I can only see it working against us.