Qatar World Cup 2022 scandal: Bill Clinton’s fury at vote triggered global search for truth

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton looked anything but happy as he strode into the Savoy Baur en Ville hotel in Zurich in December 2010. The receptionists could tell he was irritated, but had no idea just how angry he was.
After closing the door to his suite, he reached for an ornament on a table and threw it at a wall mirror in a fit of rage, shattering the glass.

The former US president, who had spent two years travelling the world glad-handing members of football’s governing body, Fifa, could not believe America’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup had been beaten by, of all places, Qatar.

Mr Clinton, the honorary chairman of the US bid, had wheeled out such big-hitters as Brad Pitt, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Morgan Freeman and Spike Lee to add lustre to the US Soccer Federation bid. Australia and Japan’s bids had seemed the biggest threat, but few had seriously entertained the idea that Qatar, a footballing desert, could win.
“Clinton was fuming,” said one well-placed source. “He felt humiliated and felt the decision did not make sense.”

The answer could lie in a series of payments made by a senior Qatari official to various Fifa members. The Qatar 2022 bid committee is adamant that there is no link.
In the wake of Qatar’s victory, the US and Australian governing bodies, or sources close to them, each hired teams of private detectives who have worked behind the scenes since, interviewing witnesses and obtaining documents in the search for what they were certain was the hidden truth about the motives of Fifa members in voting for Qatar.

Whether there is any connection between these investigations and the leak of documents to The Sunday Times is unclear, but Australia and the US have most to gain if Qatar is stripped of the World Cup.
Meanwhile, newspapers have been making their own inquiries into the controversy.

In March this year, The Telegraph disclosed that Jack Warner, the former vice-president of Fifa, and his family were paid almost £1.2million by a Qatari firm linked to the World Cup bid. This newspaper also revealed that the 10-year-old daughter of a Brazilian Fifa executive who participated in the 2010 decision had more than £2 million put into a savings account set up in her name.

The Sunday Times has been given millions of leaked documents that appear to show a further £2 million in bribes that were paid to Fifa members in a plot allegedly organised by Mohamed Bin Hammam, Qatar’s most senior football official at the time.
Mr Bin Hammam is alleged to have used ten secret slush funds to make dozens of payments, many of them to accounts controlled by the heads of 30 African football associations who could lobby the continent’s four executive members over how to vote.
Mohamed Bin Hammam (Shirley Bahadur/ AP)
Mr Bin Hammam was banned from world football in 2011 after he was caught bribing voters in his bid to be elected Fifa president.
Now The Telegraph has discovered that Michel Platini, the president of Europe’s soccer governing body UEFA, held secret meetings with Mr Bin Hammam, and that Thailand was offered a gas deal in return for its support of the Qatar bid.
Michel Platini (Pics United)
The clamour for Qatar to be punished has now built such momentum that Australia is said to be ready to re-run its bid if the 2022 tournament is up for grabs again, with the US likely to follow suit.
Where that leaves England’s World Cup ambitions is less easy to predict. England bid for the 2018 World Cup, given to Russia on the same day as Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament.
David Cameron and the Duke of Cambridge were among those lobbying Fifa in the run-up to the vote in Switzerland, yet the bid got just two votes and was eliminated in the first round of voting.
Andy Anson, the chief executive of England’s bid, said some executive committee members had told lies. He had been confident that England could secure seven votes in the first round, a base that would have provided a platform for victory.
“I do feel people let us down, I’d be lying if I said they didn’t,” he said. “People who promised us our vote obviously went the other way.”
Even before Russia annexed Crimea, concerns had been raised about the country’s human rights and safety record, and there is speculation that if the 2022 vote has to be re-run, the 2018 vote would have to be re-run also.
Fifa is already looking at the possibility of moving the 2022 tournament to the winter months, and speculation is growing that Mr Blatter is looking for an excuse to reverse the decision altogether, with health concerns being a potential excuse.
A spokesman for the Qatar 2022 bid said Mr Bin Hammam had never worked for the bid and they knew nothing about his activities.