Taking a page of out the American political playbook, FIFA president Seth Blatter has charged the discussion on how Qatar bought the World Cup away from the actual bribery to racism.
Speaking to African football officials in Sao Paulo, Blatter confirmed that the latest allegations would be discussed at the Fifa Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“There is a sort of storm against Fifa relating to the Qatar World Cup,” Blatter said. “Sadly there’s a great deal of discrimination and racism.”
That line of defense is also been played by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), whose member were at the heart of the Sunday Times reports on how Qatar bought the 2022 World Cup.
Speaking at the its general assembly in Sao Paulo, the CCAF issued a statement in which it condemned what it termed
“the repeated, deliberately hateful, defamatory and degrading attacks by some media, notably British, on the image and the integrity of the Confederation of African Football, its president, its members, its member associations and the entire African continent.”
Caf added that it would urge the executive committee
“to file a law suit, if necessary, so that the authors of this smearing and defamatory campaign against African football leaders are brought to book”.
American lawyer Michael Garcia is currently involved in an independent investigation into the bidding process and is scheduled to deliver his report to Fifa in mid-July. But this new stance by Blatter and the Caf leads me to believe that FIFA has already decided to whitewash the report.
The only chance of FIFA having the guts to reopen the 2022 bidding process, is if the sponsors threaten to pull their money. So far, Sony, Adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa and Hyundai/Kia, BP and Anheuser–Busch, have all expressed their concerns over the bribery allegations.