By Tony Attwood
Now here is a very interesting story about Fifa. It’s all over the European press, but not being touched in England because… well, you know, it shows Fifa in a bad light and our media don’t want to do that because we are bidding once again for international competitions.
But in Switzerland, the media don’t bend the knee to anyone and in particular, Blick is a Swiss broadsheet paper, takes scandals seriously. And I should add, it’s not a fantasist paper like some of those in England that make up tales just for the readership, but it is a serious publication, and when it goes out on a limb with a story, it is worth taking note.
Here’s what is happening. We all know that getting the world cup to Qatar was the result of… well you can fill in your own reason.
But having got the world cup, Qatar then got the worries. Although the Qataris had effectively bought the utter and total obedience of organizations like the FA who will bend the knee to anyone but say they don’t, not everyone was so knocked out by moving the finals to Qatar. Stories started to appear in the media about the way Qatar treats immigrant workers.
As the stories grew Qatar got more and more worried about Hassan al-Thawadi who they call the big boss of the world cup. To be more precise H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi is the Secretary General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy for the world cup. In short the man whose job it is to make sure everything is ready on time, and everything works smoothly.
He is, you might say, the Supreme Leader of the world cup, and he’s now in the middle of a scandal – which by and large the Fifa-grovelling English press don’t want you to know about.
Because according to research by ‘SRF Investigativ’, H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi has been overseeing a very large-scale espionage operation against Fifa with the purpose of ensuring that Fifa didn’t bend to the complaints about Qatar having the world cup, complaints about the heat, complaints about doing it during the European season, and complaints about the thousands of injured, killed or abandoned migrant workers who were promised top jobs and arrived and found they had hard labour in the heat for virtually no wages, and would go home with nothing – if they survived.
So H.E. Hassan Al Thawadi oversaw a programme in which the Qataris have spied on senior officials of the International Football Federation, bugging phones, bugging hotel rooms, bugging computers etc.
Now of course that turned out to be quite a job so they needed help. And they found it via some retired CIA agents who it turned out knew all about bugging.
Meanwhile Qatar itself ran a not very effective counter-campaign to suggest that it is not a regime with no regard for human rights which used slave labour to build the stadia.
And it is the involvement of Hassan al-Thawadi that is making the news in Europe (but not in England where the media really don’t want to know about this sort of thing) because he is very chummy with Gianni Infantino, and is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC.
Now that quaintly named body is a joint venture of Qatar and the International Football Federation and Fifa owns 51% of the company’s shares. This is the body that is organising the training sites, volunteers, guest management, logistics, catering etc etc.
Hassan al-Thawadi works directly with Fatma Samoura, the second highest person in Fifa, Colin Smith, director of the world cup event, and Emilio Garcia Silvero, head of the Legal Department. And in short Fifa has a spy in its own ranks, watching, making sure no one in Fifa gets cold feet about its outrageous move to take the world cup to Qatar.
So as part of this closing ranks process President Infantino was, it seems, invited to move his home to Qatar and has thus made himself hostage to the leaders of this country. And Infantino undoubtedly thought this a great idea since it means that the Swiss courts now can’t continue their case against him for holding secret meetings with the head of legal affairs for the whole of Switzerland.
This week, Sepp Blatter told SRF: “It surprised me that there was a case of organized espionage within Fifa, it’s worrying.” And that is putting it mildly. Fifa is running organized espionage against Qatar because Qatar has been taken by surprise about the level of the negative publicity it is receiving, and might be thinking that it doesn’t want the world cup after all. Wow.
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