In a few days, Thursday June 12th, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will kick-off. In terms of advertising FIFA has nothing to complain: the World Cup in Brazil will generate an estimated profit of 4 billion euro (sponsoring and TV). But in terms of image FIFA has to counter a new attack: FIFA is facing fresh allegations of corruption over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. In case corruption in the Qatar bidding is discovered, can FIFA simply run another vote for the 2022 World Cup?
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is an association governed by Swiss law founded in 1904 and based in Zurich. FIFA’s primary objective is "to improve the game of football constantly and promote it globally in the light of its unifying, educational, cultural and humanitarian values, particularly through youth and development programs". FIFA's second objective is to organize international football competitions, like the World Cups. The revenue from this one competition enables FIFA to stage around 30 tournaments, from women’s and youth football to beach soccer, futsal and even soccergames.
The FIFA Executive Committee usually attracts a lot of media attention during bidding processes and announcements for future World Cups. The decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is highly controversial for a few reasons:
- Hundreds of millions documents which reveal secret payments totalling more than $5m by Bin Hammam to senior football officials in a bid to help Qatar to win the rights to host the World Cup in 2022 have been uncovered by The Sunday Times.
- Not conform usual procedure - voting for awarding tournaments 7 years prior to the actual World Cup - the FIFA has decided in 2008 to vote in 2010 for both 2018 en 2022 World Cups. On 2 December 2010, it was announced that Qatar will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
- Temperature will be reaching 50 degrees Celsius during summertime easily : Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, has said that it was a mistake to award Qatar the football World Cup in 2022 because of the searing summer climate.
Qatar's 2022 Bid Committee denied knowledge of improper activity by Bin Hammam and said he had never worked for the bid; the Committee has issued a statement reiterating that it denies "all allegations of wrongdoing".
FIFA’s ethics investigator, mr Michael Garcia, a former FBI official, who is leading the investigation into corruption claims, has “been allowed to complete his mission and has been allowed to go in and speak to anyone throughout the world who he felt he had to speak to” before he hands his report to FIFA. Jim Boyce, one of seven FIFA vice-presidents, said today that he would be in favour of rerunning the vote for the 2022 World Cup if the governing body's chief investigator uncovers corruption in the Qatar bid.
Jack Anderson, Professor of Sports Law at Queen's University Belfast, has identified legal obstacles for the decision to strip Qatar of the 2022 World Cup tournament: "The agreement between FIFA and Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup is contractual in nature. If a contract has been secured through corruption or fraud it cannot be allowed to stand. (.....) Corruption based on secretive bribes is notoriously difficult to prove both in terms of the resources and time that have to be devoted to its investigation and in translating evidential proof into satisfactory legal proof."
As far as the investigation by mr Garcia is concerned, professor Anderson adds that "Such investigations are complex and the Court of Arbitration for Sport demands due process be followed at all times. Any errors would leave FIFA vulnerable to legal challenge by the aggrieved but well-resourced Qatari organizing committee."
I totally agree with professor Anderson's conclusion: "In the end, what is important is not whether a “re-vote” on the hosting of World Cup 2022 ultimately takes place but whether both the bidding processes for future tournaments and the conduct of the tiny electorate who votes abide by the basic principle of competitive sport – fair play."
In response to a number of inquiries concerning its investigation of the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee released the following statement:
"After months of interviewing witnesses and gathering materials, we intend to complete that phase of our investigation by June 9, 2014, and to submit a report to the Adjudicatory Chamber approximately six weeks thereafter. The report will consider all evidence potentially related to the bidding process, including evidence collected from prior investigations." (Michael J. Garcia, Chairman, and Cornel Borbely, Deputy Chairman).
Major sports events like the Olympic Games are watched by billions of people around the world, causing a social and economic impact globally. Football and the FIFA Worldcups are no exception. Let's keep our fingers crossed (financial) fair play in football will win eventually! In the words of FIFA: "Football can inspire communities and break down barriers. Football is for all." FIFA's third objective/mission is "building a better future for all through football."
Enjoy watching the next World Cup in Brazil 🙂
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
- Crocombe, Nigel G., "Building a New Future : the 2022 FIFA World Cup as a Potential Catalyst for Labor Reform in Quatar", Suffolk Transnational Law Review, 37 (2014), No.1, pp. 33-66.
- Morris, Samuel, "FIFA World Cup 2022: Why the United States Cannot Successfully Challenge FIFA Awarding the Cup to Qatar and How the Qatar Controversy Shows FIFA Needs Large-Scale Changes", California Western International Law Journal, 42 (2012), No.2, pp. 541-575.