Everything We Know So Far About The Corruption And Human Rights Abuses Surrounding FIFA And Qatar's 2022 World Cup
Bribes, scandals, dangerous working conditions. A timeline.
At left, an artist's rending of one of Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadiums. At right, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad al-Thani, the chairman of the Qatari bid, celebrates after hearing that his country's bid had been selected.
FIFA bans two members of its executive committee, Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, after they were caught trying to sell their votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
FIFA awards the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, which beat out the United States by a vote of 14–8 for the bid. The victory comes despite warnings that temperatures in Qatar can reach 120 degrees in the summer months, when the World Cup is held.
"We know it would be a bold gamble and an exciting prospect — but with no risk," bid Chief Executive Hassan al-Thawadi tells reporters. "Heat is not and will not be an issue."
Qatar promises to build significant infrastructure for the tournament, including nine new stadiums. Officials estimate the cost at $50 billion.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter denies that FIFA is struggling amid continuing allegations that some voters accepted bribes during the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. "Football is not in a crisis, only some difficulties," he says. He runs unopposed and is elected to his fourth term as president of FIFA.
Qatari officials confirm that alcohol will be sold within the country during the World Cup, but leave questions about whether or not it will also be sold inside stadiums. The country currently allows alcohol sales inside some hotels, but not at soccer matches.
Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, warns of dangerous working conditions in Qatar. "Without genuine legal protection and union rights, more workers will die building the World Cup stadiums than players will play in the World Cup itself," he says. The ITUC also reports that some workers are being denied time off until they have completed a year of work — and even then are being given only three days of leave per year.
A report from a United Nation agency, the International Labour Organization, says that 94% of all workers in Qatar are migrant workers, and many may be victims of human trafficking. Some migrant workers are forced to pay recruiters a fee — on average, $550 — just to secure a job in Qatar. The ILO reports that those jobs are often not as high paying as promised, or may be entirely different from the jobs promised before leaving their home countries.
The Economist writes that worker conditions are unlikely to improve in Qatar: "The migrant workers' lot is unlikely to improve until the reform of the kafala system, whereby workers are beholden to the employers who sponsored their visas."
The Guardian reports that at least 44 Nepalese workers died during the summer while building infrastructure for the World Cup. Workers say they have not been paid for months, and have been denied access to food and water. The Guardian describes the conditions as "modern-day slavery."
The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that more than 4,000 migrant workers could die in Qatar while working on construction projects for the World Cup.
Blatter says a decision on when to play the 2022 World Cup may not come until 2015. The tournament is expected to move to the winter months, as temperatures will be too hot to play soccer during the summer.
Amnesty International releases a report detailing the "severe exploitation" of workers in Qatar. It notes that workers in Qatar cannot change jobs — or leave the country — without the permission of their employer, effectively leaving workers enslaved. (Employers also hold their workers' passports, making escape even more difficult.)
French player Zahir Belounis — then playing for a Qatari team — writes a letter in The Guardian claiming that after a legal dispute with his team, he has not been allowed to leave the country and return to France. "This system is slowly killing me and many other people risk suffering in the same way," he says.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke announces that the World Cup will not be played in the summer due to excessive heat. Just hours later, FIFA releases a statement saying no decision has been made.
The Daily Telegraph reports that former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner was paid $1.2 million by a Qatari company owned by Mohamed bin Hammam, a member of FIFA's executive committee. The money was paid just weeks after Warner cast his vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.
The International Trade Union Confederation releases a report saying at least 1,200 migrant workers have already died in Qatar since the World Cup was awarded to the country. The ITUC also calls on Qatar to end kafala and allow workers to unionize.
Blatter says it was a "mistake" to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, citing the heat that will likely force the tournament's move to winter months.
Qatari officials announce that they will eliminate the country's kafala system for migrant workers, pending a vote. The Guardian reports that there will be significant opposition from businesses to any change in employment laws.
At left, Qatari midfielder Khalfan Ibrahim Alkhalfan. At right, Qatari fans in Doha.
The Sunday Times reports that bin Hammam — who was named in March as the man who paid $1.2 million in bribes for Jack Warner's vote — paid out more than $5 million to FIFA executives and voters in order to win the World Cup bid for his country. Bin Hammam also reportedly paid the legal fees for Reynald Temarii, who was banned by FIFA in November 2010 for trying to sell his vote.
Investigators finish their internal investigation into the bid process behind the 2022 World Cup, and announce that they will turn over all evidence to FIFA for consideration.
A John Oliver rant on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, brings new worldwide attention toward the corruption of FIFA and problems with the 2022 World Cup.
ESPN's Jorge Ramos reports that FIFA has told the United States to prepare for the World Cup if Qatar is stripped of its bid. U.S. Soccer officials deny the report just hours later.
The Sunday Times reports that FIFA executives ignored an internal report predicting a "high risk" of a terrorist attack during a Qatari World Cup, with the chance of a "major incident" during the competition. Qatar was the only country rated as a high-risk country. In the same report, which was given to executives in the month before the selection of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Russia was rated as a moderate risk, but was still awarded the 2018 World Cup.
The New York Times reports that Blatter may run for a fifth term as FIFA president.