Qatar’s World Cup bid used ‘black ops’

People celebrate in front of a screen that reads "Congratulations Qatar" after FIFA announced that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup. (Reuters)
Updated 30 July 2018
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Qatar’s World Cup bid used ‘black ops’

  • Doha hired former CIA agents report claims
  • PR company hired to spread black propaganda

LONDON: Qatar hired former CIA agents to conduct a so called black operations campaign to attack rival World Cup bids, the Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said Qatar paid a public relations firm to spread “fake propaganda” about Australia and the US — both rivals to host the 2022 competition, citing emails from a whistleblower.

Qatar’s bid to host the competition has been plagued by allegations of corruption ever since the shock announcement handing the hosting rights to the Gulf state was made in 2010.

Doha aimed to recruit influential individuals to attack bids in their native countries, creating the impression there was “zero support” to host the World Cup among the population, the Sunday Times reported.

One email that was sent to Qatar’s deputy bid leader Ali Al-Thawadi allegedly shows the state was aware of plots to spread “poison” against other bidders in the running before Qatar won the right to host the tournament.

It is alleged the plotters even planned for a US Congress resolution highlighting the harmful effects of the US bid and paid a professor $9,000 to draft a report highlighting the economic burden it would create for the country.

The leaked documents also revealed that a group of American PE teachers had been recruited to ask congressmen to oppose a US World Cup on the grounds the money would be better spent on high school sports. 

In Australia grassroots protests were organized at rugby games in Australia opposing the country's bid, the Sunday Times claimed.

FIFA rules say bidders must “refrain from making any written or oral statements of any kind, whether adverse or otherwise, about the bids or candidatures of any other member association which has expressed an interest in hosting and staging the competitions.”

There is now bound to be speculation that if the allegations are proven and linked directly to the bid team then it could increase the risk of Qatar being sensationally stripped of the event.

British MP and long-time critic of the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar, Damian Collins, has called for an independent investigation into the allegations. 

"If the Qataris have broken the rules, they should face some sanctions,” he told BBC Radio Five Live. 

Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has rejected all the paper’s claims. In a statement, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it “rejected each and every allegation put forward by the Sunday Times.

“We have been thoroughly investigated and have been forthcoming with all information related to our bid, including the official investigation led by US attorney Michael Garcia.

“We have strictly adhered to all FIFA’s rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process.”


Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

Updated 6 min 6 sec ago
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Kyrgios withdraws from French Open, citing illness

  • Roger Federer plays down chances of his winning the mega title

PARIS: After a tantrum in Italy last week, Nick Kyrgios withdrew from the French Open on Friday.

The ATP said the Australian player cited illness as the reason.

Last week at the Italian Open, the 36th-ranked Kyrgios was defaulted and fined during his second-round match after an outburst of rage. Trailing against Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud, Kyrgios slammed his racket to the clay and kicked a water bottle. Then he picked up a white chair and flung it onto the court.

Kyrgios was fined and lost ATP points but escaped suspension and was expected to play in Paris.

His withdrawal came only days after Kyrgios posted a video online in which he said the French Open “sucks” when compared to Wimbledon, where he trained recently.

In 2015, Kyrgios insulted Stan Wawrinka with crude remarks during a match in Montreal. He was fined $12,500 and given a suspended 28-day ban. He also attracted criticism for deciding not to play at the Olympics because of a spat with an Australian team official, and for firing back at retired players who have offered advice.

Also on Friday, Roger Federer played down his chances of winning the French Open on his first appearance at Roland Garros since 2015, saying that title-winning form might not be “in his racquet.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion missed the French Open in 2016 through injury before sitting out the next two clay-court seasons in order to focus on Wimbledon.

But he will make his Roland Garros return on Sunday with a first-round tie against unheralded Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Federer admitted that he is unsure of his title chances, but did compare his current situation with when he ended a five-year Grand Slam drought at the Australian Open in 2017.

“(I) don’t know (if I can win the tournament). A bit of a question mark for me. Some ways I feel similar to maybe the Australian Open in ‘17,” the 2009 French Open winner said.

“A bit of the unknown. I feel like I’m playing good tennis, but is it enough against the absolute top guys when it really comes to the crunch? I’m not sure if it’s in my racquet.

“But I hope I can get myself in that position deep down in the tournament against the top guys. But first I need to get there and I know that’s a challenge in itself.”

Despite being the third seed, Federer faces a tricky draw, with a possible quarter-final against Greek youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas — who beat him in the Australian Open last 16 — and a potential last-four clash with 11-time champion and old adversary Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, Nadal said on Friday that he “doesn’t care” if he is the red-hot favorite to lift a record-extending 12th French Open title, insisting that there are a host of players in contention for the trophy.

The world number two holds an incredible French Open win-loss record of 86-2, and hit top form by winning his ninth Italian Open last week with a final victory over old rival Novak Djokovic.