By Tony Attwood
It has taken the elimination of England from the World Cup for the English press to wake up and recognise what much of the rest of the world has been talking about for some time, but now it seems we can be told. As the Daily Mail puts it in what it calls a “special report”:
“How they bought the World Cup: Qatar bid officials offered bribes worth millions during clandestine hotel meetings as government agents found that the Gulf nation colluded with Russia’s Vladimir Putin to fix votes after they struck an oil deal.”
It is a story that has been circulating in Europe for some time, as for example via Swiss newsgroup Blick. Anyone who keeps up with footballing matters internationally will hardly be moved by the Mail’s headlines such as
- An MI6 spy discovered that collusion between Qatar and Russia took place
- Evidence of vote-rigging and bribe-giving from Qatar has since come to light
Now we have (via Blick) details of a Qatari spying operation on Putin while he was in Switzerland – a spying operation that was outsourced to the American security firm called Global Risk Advisors, made up of former collaborators of the American secret service.
So this was espionage between collaborators who wanted to carve up two world cups between them: Qatar and Russia. As those in the spying industry like to say when spying on collaborators, “Trust is good, control is better.”
There is no evidence that the Swiss authorities spied on the Qataris who were in Switzerland spying on the Russians. And since the story emerged, British lawyers acting for Qatar have written to Blick denying the claims.
Of course, the whole Qatar world cup affair has been full of reports of corruption and espionage. What is happening now through the report in Blick is that evidence is being provided to back up the long-rumbling story.
At the heart of it all is Kevin Chalker, a spy who joined forces with another intelligence agency operative Denis Mandich at Global Risk Advisors. According to the newspaper reports Mandich supplied information from CIA files to Qatar.
The Associated Press news agency has already reported a link between Denis Mandich and Kevin Chalker. But Blick has now shown that the collaboration and spying started much earlier and went much deeper.
What makes the story even more fascinating is that the two Americans were in fact working against their own country, as the USA was bidding against Qatar to get the world cup. It will now in fact part host the next world cup.
As a result of all the spying and double-dealing which resulted in Russia and Qatar getting world cup finals, Qatar put $2 billion into a Russian liquefied natural gas project in the Arctic. as well as investing in two major airports in Russia and supporting the VTB bank, Bild adds that “Today, Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund owns a 19% stake in Russia’s third-largest company: Rosneft, the state-owned oil production company.”
This rather complicates the fact that Europe is currently trying to get rid of its close ties to Russian energy supply by trying to do deals with Qatar – only to find that Qatar and Russia are now so closely allied.
According to Associated Press the FBI has been investigating the links between Qatar and Russia for a long time – and of course such matters would normally not be territory for Untold Arsenal. But the revelations are revealing that the world cup is nothing but a part of a set of battles between various countries related to the supply of energy. Qatar got the world cup because of its secret deals with other countries that were anxious to get hold of its liquified natural gas. The football was pretty much irrelevant.
Perhaps the deep sadness is that newspapers such as the Mail will only run such stories after England are knocked out of the world cup. Football patriotism first, saving the planet second, as ever.
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