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World Cup Plans Proceed Despite FIFA Corruption Arrests
Qatar’s 2022 World Cup plans are moving ahead as planned, despite the FIFA arrests and corruption indictments. Though the Gulf country’s bid, as well as Russia’s successful bid for the 2018 World Cup, have both been brought into question by the recent crackdown on corruption in the global football governing body, FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s re-election means that for now, plans will go ahead accordingly.
Blatter, who has long been dogged by allegations of corruption, was re-elected on 29 May, withstanding the fallout from the arrest of seven FIFA officials two days earlier. The 79-year-old begins his fifth term facing increased scrutiny of his alleged role in corruption in the world soccer body.
The officials were arrested in a surprise raid on a Swiss luxury hotel where FIFA officials were staying ahead of the election. The indictments, brought by the US Justice Department, include 14 people and 47 counts of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy, beginning in 1994.
The indictment is believed to centre around $150 million in bribes and kickbacks to football officials, as well as to media and marketing executives responsible for deals related to major tournaments.
Blatter, who has long been a controversial and power figure in the world of football, denies allegations that corruption was involved in the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar. Swiss prosecutors say they’ve opened up a criminal proceeding to investigate the matter. Qatar plans to spend up to $200 billion on preparations for the event, including building stadiums and hotels. Both Qatar and Russia have denied any wrongdoing related to the World Cup bids.
FIFA is football’s global governing body, and had revenue of $5.7 billion from 2011 to 2014.
Much of the investigation is believed to centre around the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, known as Concacaf. Concacaf is one of six regional federations in FIFA. The indictment claims that the South African government promised to pay $10 million to Warner and other FIFA officials in exchange for the awarding of the 2010 World Cup to South Africa.
Jack Warner, former vice president of FIFA, was among those arrested in Switzerland. Between 1990 and 2011 Warner was president of Concacaf, but resigned amid mounting allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement. Blatter was not among those arrested, but a day after his re-election he said he believed the arrests were politically motivated.
In an interview with a Swiss broadcaster, Blatter said, "No one is going to take it off me that it was a simple coincidence (that) this American attack (happened) two days before the elections of FIFA." Blatter also implied that the United States favoured his opponent in the race, Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan.
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