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.”


Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

Updated 17 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

  • A double from Almoez Ali means Qatar top Group E.
  • Juan Antonio Pizzi's men now face Japan in second round on Monday.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia now know they will have to overcome Japan in the second round if they are to keep their hopes of a fourth Asian Cup title alive. 

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar meant Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men finished second in Group E — both sides went into the top-of-the-table clash knowing they had already secured a spot in the knockout stages. 

A brace from Almoez Ali in Abu Dhabi was enough to give Qatar the three points and leave them top of the group. 

From the kick-off the Green Falcons were the ones who looked the more likely to make the initial breakthrough —  Fahad Almuwallad slamming a right-foot shot against the post after 22 minutes.

Qatar captain Hasan Al-Haydos then missed a penalty in the 42nd minute after Ali had been clattered in the box.

But Ali, who scored four goals in Qatar's 6-0 rout of North Korea last weekend, made no mistake in first-half stoppage time.

He calmly slotted the ball past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais to become the first player to score six goals in a single Asian Cup since South Korea's Lee Dong-gook in 2000.

Ali subsequently headed in a seventh goal of the tournament 10 minutes from time, celebrating with a jig of delight.

While the defeat was not ideal Green Falcons coach Pizzi said he was still hopeful Saudi Arabia would be able to go far in the tournament. 

"It was an intense game but we have to hide our feelings and prepare for the last 16," Pizzi said.

"We were missing quality in the final third and individual errors have cost us," he added.

"But we will bounce back. I respect every team left in the competition, including Japan, but I don't feel that we are inferior to them in any way."

Qatar, who have never gone beyond the quarterfinals, advance to face Iraq in the last 16.