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A report released Thursday by FIFA’s own independent ethics committee said there was a “significant lack of transparency” in the bid but cleared the Middle East country to host the world’s largest sporting event. FIFA only released a 42-page summary of the 430-page report compiled by its own ethics committee and based on an 18-month inquiry by the U.S. attorney Michael Garcia. Earlier in the year, Sony — along with other major World Cup sponsors — called for an investigation into the bribery accusations regarding Qatar’s bid.
The report also said there was not sufficient evidence of corruption in the bid granting the next World Cup, in 2018, to Russia. Both World Cups are set to go ahead as planned.
But it won’t mean the end of controversy for FIFA. Immediately after the report was released, commentators condemned it as further evidence of endemic corruption at soccer’s international governing body.
‘This is House of Cards, the Zurich series,” tweeted Raphael Hongistein, a sports journalist for Britain’s The Guardian and the Suddeutsche Zeitung in Germany, referencing FIFA’s headquarters in the Swiss city. Gary Lineker, a former English international player and commentator for the BBC and NBC in the U.S., expressed his exasperation with FIFA, noting that “if I had one wish for [soccer], it would be that FIFA was disbanded and replaced by a transparent governing body that put its sport first.”
— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) November 13, 2014
If I had one wish for football, it would be that FIFA was disbanded and replaced by a transparent governing body that put its sport first.
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 13, 2014
The criticisms levied at FIFA connected to the Qatar and Russian World Cup bids are many and varied. An Amnesty International report published Wednesday accused Qatar of failing to tackle the abuse and exploitation of foreign workers involved in the construction of soccer stadiums for the upcoming event. More than 180 died in the country last year, while many more are believed to have been injured through unsafe working practices. By contrast, two workers died in the preparations for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Many also question the wisdom of holding an outdoor sporting event in Qatar, a country where temperatures top 120 Fahrenheit in the summer. FIFA executives have hinted the event could be moved to the winter but that would cause its own problems, as it would conflict with other professional leagues, including England’s Premier League. Fox, who have U.S. rights to the 2022 World Cup, would likely balk at programming the event in the middle of NFL season.
Ahead of this past summer’s World Cup in South Africa, John Oliver, the host of HBO’s satirical news show Last Week Tonight lashed out at FIFA, calling it a “comically grotesque organization.”
Although there had been fewer accusations of bribery connected to Russia’s 2018 bid, the country’s record on human rights —particularly its anti-gay legislation – and its recent aggression towards Ukraine, have led to calls for boycott the Russian World Cup.
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