As long as the money kept flowing, nobody at FIFA batted an eye. But with the latest revelations about the alleged corruption taking in place when handing the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, the top-tier sponsors like Adidas, Sony and Visa are requesting further investigation from football’s governing body, something we usually don’t get to see from a corrupt and polluted organization.
There are problems right now in Brazil with stadiums not being 100% ready for the games that begin this week, not to mention the inner turmoil in Brazil, unhappy about the funds spent on this massive tournament while the country has bigger problems. It’s not that they’re unhappy with the tournament happening in Brazil, but it seems like someone, or a few someones, have put their hands into the pot and took plenty of money for themselves.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter and its top World Cup organizing official, secretary general Jerome Valcke have declined to comment on the matter. Meanwhile, Adidas seem unhappy with what the Sunday Times are digging up about Mohamed bin Hammam, allegedly building support for the Qatari bid through bribes. Sony joined them, and now Visa and Coca-Cola are in the finger wagging at FIFA deal themselves.
FIFA acts like nothing is wrong, and from time to time holds internal inquiries to please the masses by throwing them a bone. But as long as its just public opinion, social media and allegations from the media, they can live with it. As long as the money keeps flowing in and no one at the top, which mostly means Blatter, gets hurt, things carry on as usual. The outrageous change to hand two World Cups in the same vote, giving Qatar a ridiculous amount of time to prepare. Russia, another nation that often gets criticized for how things are handled there, seems to be walking away from the storm unscathed, maybe not being a “sexy” enough topic.
The Qatari 2022 organizing committee has repeated the same things over and over again: They’re cooperating with Michael Garcia, and they’re confident that at the end of the appropriate process, the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar will stand. Right now, in November 2022, we’re having a World Cup in the small emirate, despite the human rights problems and the smell of corruption and money exchanging hands leaking from every pore in this whole story.
Sponsors that pay $700 million over four years toward this World Cup care about how they are perceived in the public. FIFA don’t have competitors. Adidas and Sony do. And when they find out that their money is being used to do some illegal things or just associated with them, this becomes a problem. Media giants that have purchased the broadcasting rights to the World Cups won’t be happy with the winter switch to. This thing is far from over, and looking more and more like an embarrassment for FIFA and Qatar, although shame has no place when money is involved.