Saudi think tank says Qatar should be stripped of 2022 World Cup

SAPRAC argued that FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee “must conclude” Qatar had committed ethics violations



Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup has entered the firing line in a diplomatic dispute with its Gulf neighbours after a Saudi think tank said the country should be stripped of its right to host the tournament for ethics violations.

The Washington-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee’s (SAPRAC) white paper comes as the bidding process for the World Cup comes under new scrutiny following the release of a previously redacted report by former FIFA independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia.

In its report ‘Qatar hosting sports under the banner of terrorism’, SAPRAC quotes US officials as describing the country as “the most two-faced nation in the world, backing the US-led coalition against the militants of the Islamic State while providing a permissive environment”.

The organisation also alleges there is “concrete proof” the Qatari government is funding terrorist organisations within its own borders.

SAPRAC, which was founded by Saudi commentator Salman Al-Ansari, goes on to highlight corruption allegations surrounding the 2022 bidding process, which is under investigation by US and Swiss authorities

It also suggests money used to increase Qatar’s sporting influence through its previous sponsorship of Barcelona FC and 2011 acquisition of French football team Paris Saint-Germain was the same used to fund terrorist groups.

“It is now an explicit fact that the money used in funding and enabling top terrorist groups around the world, is the same money used to buy European football teams and host the 2022 FIFA World Cup,” SAPRAC said.

The organisation went on to suggest that FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee “must conclude” that Qatar committed a serious breach of ethics rules and its support for terrorist groups was against the federation’s code of ethics.

The report then details concerns raised during the 2022 bidding process including Qatar’s lack of infrastructure, high summer temperatures, transparency issues and human rights concerns related to construction workers.

It also highlights concerns in the international community regarding the tournament including comments from German football and government officials and speculates on the impact should the economic isolation of Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain continue.

SAPRAC said fans, teams and organisers could face travel difficulties due to the closing of air links and airspace to Qatar and suggested there could be delays to stadiums as shipments of construction materials slow down due to the closing of ports and land links.

In addition, it suggested the boycott had negatively impacted Qatar’s economy and there were concerns from expats working in Qatar’s economy and countries contributing to the workforce.

Read: Fresh economic sanctions on Qatar being considered – UAE envoy

German newspaper Bild this week published new corruption allegations against Qatar from a redacted report into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes by former FIFA independent ethics investigator Michael Garcia.

These included a payment of $2m to the 10-year old daughter of a FIFA official and the flying of three FIFA executive members to a party in Rio de Janeiro in a Qatari federation private jet ahead of the 2010 vote.

Read: New corruption allegations surface in Qatar 2022 World Cup bidding process

Former US prosecutor resigned in protest in late 2014 at the way in which the 349-page report was handled after only a shortened 42-page version was published by FIFA’s German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert.

FIFA made the unusual decision of publishing the full report on its website yesterday following Bild’s reporting, which revealed Garcia did not recommend the vote for either the 2018 or 2022 tournaments be annulled