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World Cup Fix: Phaedra Almajid And The Cult Of Conspiracy

by | 16th, November 2014

IN “Fixer’s World Cup offer to England” the Sunday Times has the latest news from Planet FIFA:

FIFA’S attempt to whitewash Qatar’s winning 2022 World Cup campaign is blown apart today by fresh evidence of corruption. Qatar was cleared last week by a Fifa ethics judge who ruled that Mohamed bin Hammam, the country’s top football boss whose corrupt activities were exposed by The Sunday Times, was “distant” from the official 2022 bid team.

The Sunday Times today reveals further evidence, however, that Bin Hammam was actively engaged in illicit activities to secure the votes needed to bring the 2022 World Cup to the desert state.

This is huge:

Electronic messages freshly unearthed from a cache of hundreds of millions of leaked documents also reveal that Bin Hammam’s staff discussed how he had rigged the vote in favour of Qatar.

“ppl [people] can say what they want about the bid but he did it,” one message read.

The messages later record the efforts of Bin Hammam’s private staff to shred his correspondence and personal files and delete emails, raising concerns that crucial evidence of his secret campaign has been destroyed.

Corcerns, yes. But proof, no.

…Clare Kenny Tipton, who was England 2018’s international strategy adviser, reported to colleagues that Bin Hammam had asked her whether England would guarantee European votes in favour of Qatar if he pledged his own vote to England.

He is alleged to have told her: “I would only vote for the country in Europe that brings me the most votes for Qatar. My job is to win the World Cup for Qatar. As a Qatari, I have to, for my country.”

Significant because..

Collusion pacts between bidding countries were banned under Fifa’s rules. The account of the meeting is also further evidence that Bin Hammam was operating behind the scenes to strike back-room deals in favour of the Qatar 2022 bid…

A senior insider from the England bid said: “It makes you wonder about who else he didn’t speak to.”

And:

Fresh documents from the Fifa Files show that Bin Hammam’s closest aides discussed a second vote-swapping deal between Qatar and the Spain/Portugal team who were bidding for the 2018 competition. “i do know that qatar and spain swapped votes,” an aide wrote in one message.

An executive from the England 2018 bid was told by a member of Fifa’s executive committee (Exco) that he would be voting for Spain/ Portugal as part of the pact struck by Bin Hammam.

“I am with Bin Hammam and he has told me to vote for Spain/Portugal,” the Exco member is reported to have said.

A smoking gun?

The electronic messages reveal that Bin Hammam’s private staff shredded all his correspondence and personal files from the period directly leading up to Fifa’s decision to award the 2022 tournament to Qatar. Be instructed a secretary: “shred anything that u feel is ‘sensitive’… and will be used against him or to tarnish him.”

In the interests of fairness:

The official Qatar bid committee denies all wrongdoing and insists that Bin Hammam played no “official or unofficial” role in its campaign. Kenny Tipton declined to comment on her meeting with Bin Hammam when contacted last week.

Why not comment? Why not shout about it?

Reinhard Rauball, president of Germany’s football league, said Uefa, the European football association, would have to consider leaving Fifa if it does not publish Garcia’s report in full. [Michael Garcia, Fifa’s top investigator, investigated llegaion of World Cup vote rigging.] .He said Fifa should divulge what was not evaluated in the report and “whether it was justified to leave these things out”.

Will UEFA opt out of FIFA? It’d be great if it did. FIFA’s power relies on co-operation. If Europe ducks out of the World Cup, then it’s finished.

The Telegraph adds:

The whistleblower who first made serious allegations about Qatar’s bid for the World Cup has confirmed she withdrew them under pressure from the country. Phaedra Almajid worked on Qatar 2022’s bid team and alleged that Fifa executive committee members Issa Hayatou, Jacques Anouma and Amos Adamu were given $1.5 million (around £1m) to vote for Qatar. But she later retracted the claims, saying she had fabricated them in order to gain revenge on the bid after losing her job. And a 42-page summary published last week of the 430-page report produced by Fifa’s head judge dismissed her evidence. But Almajid told the Mail on Sunday: “When it comes to Fifa, be prepared to be crucified, not once or twice but over and over again. Be prepared to suffer and pay for your actions. Be prepared never to feel safe and never to feel you can trust anyone. But most importantly, be ready to be betrayed by those who have promised to protect you.”

But why should we trust a whistleblower any more than the organisation? Are we that desperate to bring down a big beast and proof conspracies of big business holding us in its thrall?

“I was completely alone in trying to fight off the Qataris,” she said. “I needed to protect the welfare of my kids and I signed. I am one small insignificant single mum against the richest country in the world and the richest sporting organisation in the world.”

Why should we believe her? Why should journalists – once questioning and campaigning – take the story handed to them on a plate and run with it? This buying into the conspiratorial is weak.

That Qatar is hosting a World Cup Finals is ridiculous, of course. You can point to the dead migrants labour, the State-sanctioned bigotry, the heat, the lack of any recognisable clubs and alleged corruption and argue that football’s big show is run by a secretive network of mega-rich, power mad loons for whom football is a short-cut to acceptance and gaining sympathy the great unwashed.

We know it all. We don’t need a whistleblower. We need to vote with our feet.

 



Posted: 16th, November 2014 | In: Sports Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink