The current and growing scandal in the world's most popular sport this time? Qatar's winning 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting bid got a boost from the outright bribery perpetrated by ex-FIFA official Mohamed bin Hammam, a guy so crooked he was banned from FIFA for -- now get this -- bribery. Qatari officials have maintained bin Hammam was acting on his own accord. New documents unearthed by the London Sunday Times says not only did Qatar's World Cup bid committee know what bin Hammam was up to, they're the ones who fronted him the $5 million he used for the bribes in the first place.
Deadspin's Sean Newell:
Bin Hammam, Qatar's top soccer official, was banned from world soccer in 2011 when he was caught trying to bribe his way into the FIFA presidency. The ban was later lifted on appeal, but he was not cleared of the charges. Qatar football has always maintained that he was not a member of the bid committee and was merely a rogue agent who, it turns out, just happened to be very helpful to the bid. The documents the Times received—which includes emails, faxes, bank statements—show a close tie between bin Hammam and the Qatar bid committee.
Following the money trail, it's easy to see how he hoped to gain favor for the 2022 bid.
Buying support across Africa was central to Bin Hammam's strategy because the members of CAF exerted collective influence over how its block of four Exco members should vote. Several of the officials he paid held seats on CAF's ruling executive committee and another nine currently sit on standing committees of the Fifa executive.
Bin Hammam was able to secure votes with "lavish junkets" and straight-up cash. According to the Times at least one of these junkets with money goodie-bags was actually paid for by the Qatar bid. In 2009 bin Hammam hosted three key voters, and 35 other soccer officials in Doha, all on Qatar's dime.
In addition to these junkets, Hammam also made payments totalling up to $200,000 to accounts "controlled by the presidents of 30 African football associations" who were key to securing a pro-Qatar vote. Payments were made from 10 slush funds and bin Hammam's daughter's account.
Needless to say, FIFA's got a massive problem on its hands now. There's already talk of holding a re-vote if the allegations against bin Hammam and Qatar's World Cup bid committee are true, and that's completely beside the point that migrant workers building Qatar's World Cup facilities are dying by the hundreds in construction accidents and heat-related casualties.
Remember, the country Qatar beat out for the 2022 World Cup?
The United States. Things just got real.