The Qatari candidate for president of FIFA Mohammed bin Hamman has withdrawn his candidacy from the race, after he was accused of bribery and corruption and suspended by FIFA. Political Capital understands that he resigned after a direct request by the country’s leadership, as means of damage limitation.
Shortly afterwards, sources in countries from around the world accused Qatar of “bribing officials” to win the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, including accusations made in the UK parliament and in an internal email sent by Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general to the organization’s vice-president.
Bin Hammam was not directly involved in Qatar's World Cup bid and he said yesterday he would appeal against the suspension.
May 27, 2011
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
Although the events surrounding bin Hamman and allegations of bribery by Qatar are understood to be unrelated, they both contribute to inflicting immense damage to Qatar.
The ability of Qatar to host the World Cup before the corruption controversy has been questioned. First and foremost. the county’s highly conservative population are not socially and politically ready to deal with the expectations required of hosting such a tournament. There is understood to be growing anxiety about what is perceived as the rapid pace of modernization and preparations for the World Cup are a major of those preparations.
Secondly, the logistical challenges are still unresolved, despite claims of technological developments including playing in airconditioned stadia.
Thirdly, the country faces other challenges including rights of the expatriate work-force, and local press freedom.
With allegations of corruptions and the possibility of an investigation of how Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup, there is an increased likelihood that the country may lose this right. Although this is not the most likely eventuality, the mere possibility undermines the image the country has been trying to build for itself.
If the country does indeed lose the right to host the World Cup, the economic consequences will be enormous. Qatar is expected to spend at least US $77 billion on infrastructure development, and possibly over $100 million. Although only a fraction of this amount is directly related to the World Cup itself, the incentive to continue with those development plans will be severely undermined. The whole ethos that the country has been developing, in portraying itself as distinct to the Dubai model, for example, means that going ahead with those development plans should Qatar losses the right to host the World Cup will be highly questionable.
The overall assessment of the developments of the past two weeks substantially increase the risk of Qatar suffering both an economic set-back as well as a permanent damage to its image.