FIFA president Sepp Blatter has spoken of the “racism” and “discrimination” that he feels are behind the corruption allegations regarding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Blatter discussed the accusations while speaking at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Congress in Sao Paulo ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The 78-year-old insisted he was saddened by unyielding claims of corruption, per Mark Bisson of WorldFootballInsider.com:
"Once again there is a sort of storm against FIFA relating to the Qatar World Cup," he said. "Sadly there’s a great deal of discrimination and racism and this hurts me. It really makes me sad."
According to Bisson, "He said FIFA needed to combat 'anything that smacks of discrimination and racism.'”
Blatter was addressing the CAF as he looks to run for the post of FIFA president once again next year. But the suggestions of corruption puncturing the bidding process for the 2022 tournament were naturally at the forefront of his mind.
UEFA President Michel Platini insisted earlier this week that if the claims of corruption are proven, then moving the World Cup to another country would be a viable option, as noted here by Gabriele Marcotti:
(Via @marcobellinazzo ) Platini says if Qatar bid corruption substantiated, then wd be appropriate to move 2022 WC elsewhere,— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) June 5, 2014
The Sunday Times (h/t David Bond of BBC Sport) reported that Mohamed bin Hammam—a former Qatari FIFA committee member—paid a figure of circa $5 million in bribes and trade deals to garner support for the 2022 showpiece being held in Qatar. It’s an allegation that both the Qataris and FIFA vehemently deny.
Despite “millions” of secret documents being unearthed by The Sunday Times, the evidence accrued will not be considered in an ongoing investigation by FIFA’s chief investigator Michael Garcia. He is conducting a full report into the validity of the bidding process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups that is set to be concluded this week.
Blatter’s latest allegations come in the wake of a host of Qatar’s potential World Cup sponsors calling for a thorough investigation into the information obtained by The Sunday Times. Per Arthur Martin of the Daily Mail, Visa and Adidas have joined Sony in insisting the information be taken seriously and that FIFA "take the appropriate actions."
Although Blatter has claimed that there is a "storm” against FIFA at the moment, the notion that the bidding process for Qatar 2022 was compromised is not an opinion founded on neither racial nor discriminatory findings.
The fact that FIFA have already sanctioned an investigation into the process themselves would certainly suggest that they harbour suspicions in-house that something untoward could have indeed taken place.
Controversy has been the narrative ever since Qatar was awarded the World Cup, with concerns regarding the climate pushing Blatter himself into admitting it was “a mistake” not long ago, per Owen Gibson of The Guardian.
On the brink of the 2014 World Cup and with elections looming, the constant stream of allegations against his organisation will only serve to provoke and unsettle a man who is undoubtedly under a great deal of stress.
But with the results of the FIFA investigation imminent and with the focus on the World Cup only likely to increase as the 2014 tournament gets underway, Blatter shouldn't expect any respite when it comes to the hyperbole surrounding Qatar 2022.