A kind of silent shame covers or gags the expressions of enthusiasm, silences the jokes or removes any possibility of a meeting to watch a game of the Qatar 2022 World Cup. We already know the truth in an expansive way: the corruption that presided over the designation of the country, the bad treatment of the migrants who worked on the construction of the stadiums, the infinite unreason of having given a country where soccer hardly exists a World Cup negotiated in Paris between political, economic, and sports leaders. Today, the French court is investigating former president Nicolas Sarkozy and former UEFA head Michel Platini, the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar and the purchase, by a Qatari investment fund, of the French capital’s soccer team, PSG. The time sequences of this case are a pitiful comedy, as if the subsequent steps revealed what had happened behind closed doors in a presidential palace: a few months after losing the presidential election to the socialist François Hollandethe first trip that Sarkozy made abroad was to Qatar. On December 11, 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy participated in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in a forum on sport financed by the Qatar National Bank. Sarkozy chanted admiration about that little monarchy then headed by his dear friend the emir Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani. The former president praised “the major strategic choice” and the “rebalancing” in favor of a Muslim country.
There or before in the Élysée Palace, football ceased to be football to become something else amorphous and powerful. It was not the federations or the commissions under the table that decided, but the political and financial lobby of two States above all sports bodies. In short, they stole football, the magic of the players, the love and enthusiasm of the fans.
Ten years after that trip to Doha, The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) has ample evidence that the Qatari World Cup was arranged during a lunch at the Presidential Palace after what it called “a corrupt pact.” The lunch took place on November 23, 2010: in addition to Sarkozy, Michel Platini (whose votes were decisive for Qatar’s victory), the then Crown Prince and current Emir of Qatar, participated in it. Tamim Al Thani, his prime minister, Hamad Ben Jassemthe Secretary General of the French Presidency, Claude Guéant, and the Sports Adviser to the President of the Republic, Sophie Dion. Around that little lunch, a few other businesses are going to take place, among them the purchase by the Qatar Holding LLC of paris saint germain and, later, the sale of combat aircraft to Qatar rafale Y Airbus. In 2019, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against Sarkozy for “active and passive corruption”, “laundering”, “concealment”. The decision in favor of Qatar won by 14 votes to 8 for the United States. At the opening of the 2022 World Cup, the European delegations, particularly the French one, have a low profile. It is not for less: a World Cup was stolen to benefit a small conservative Wahhabi emirate in its quest to build a soft power against its powerful neighbors (Saudi Arabia in particular), a group of companies (Airbus, GDF-Suez, Vinci, Areva, Alstom, Vinci, Lagardère, Accor) and Sarkozy cronies (such as former PSG co-owner Sebastien Bazinrepresentative of the true owners of the club, the United States investment fund Colony Capital) ) and the French aviation industry, civil and military: Qatar bought 80 Airbus A350 planes for 16 billion dollars plus 24 Rafale fighter jets for 6.5 billion dollars. The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office describes Sarkozy’s intervention as “win-win”, that is, both parties take a treasure.
the end of innocence
Qatar 2022 comes to break innocence without the fans or players having to do with it: the privatization and manipulation of massive human emotions that sport arouses, in this case soccer, turns 28 years old. The process began with the 1994 World Cup held in the United States and now culminates with the World Cup in Qatar, the dirtiest, most corrupt, unjustifiable and indigestible in history. The cycle of soccer-business as an absolute goal and the entry into soccer of invading advertisers began in 1994, with the World Cup in the United States. When the gringos entered the field, nothing was ever like before. Between the United States 1994 and Qatar 2022, FIFA has led soccer to its most expressive alliance with ultraliberalism at the hands of three characters with easy smiles and shady actions: the first, the Brazilian Joao Havelange, the first non-European who, moreover, was at the head of FIFA for 24 years. It was he who carried out two parallel processes: he developed soccer-business at the same time that he consolidated his power. In 1998, in the final of the World Cup won by France in ParisJoao Havelange handed over his last trophy. His legacy was already football today, at its best and at its worst: sports-business above all. But it also opened the sport in many directions: women, the third world, integrated People’s China into FIFA (1978), promoted the organization of the World Cups in Africa and expanded soccer as a world kingdom contaminated by corruption. , the buying of votes, the rude manipulations in the raffles. On July 12, 1998 Havelange handed over the FIFA scepter to one of the two protagonists of the incongruous Qatar World Cup: her “spiritual son”, Sepp Blatter, will control the reins of FIFA associated with the little brother of this plot and decisive player, Platini at the helm of UEFA. The current head of FIFA, Gianni Infantinoreplaced Blatter in 2016.
The first episode of this scam was played out in a series of lunches between Platini, aka Platoche, and Sarkozy. The last lunch, on November 23, 2010 (three weeks before the decision to host the World Cup), was the one that changed Platini’s decision: political loyalty to the head of state, business, ambitions, it is not known. According to what is clear from the investigations carried out by the French justice, Sarkozy and his associates undertook an applied lobbying work so that Platini would change his mind and opt for Qatar. Platoche was, until then, in favor of the headquarters being the United States and was firmly opposed to Qatar, which he despised. William Gaillard, a former adviser to Platini, told the French court that the UEFA chief “contemptuous of Qatar’s candidacy, which he considered absurd.” The testimony of another UEFA collaborator, Kevin Lamour, recounts that Platini said that “if Qatar was elected after Russia, it would be the end of FIFA.” Platini changed his version several times, but acknowledged that he had voted for Qatar. As for the famous lunch with Sarkozy, the former number 10 of the French team assured that he had received a kind of “subliminal message” from the French head of state. Later, Platini assured in court that he had made the decision to vote for Qatar “before lunch with Sarkozy.” The version is denied by another rogue, also a target of pro-Qatar lobbies, Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA at the time: Blatter said in 2011: “Before that famous lunch I never heard that Michel Platini was in favor of Qatar. Platini told me that Sarkozy had recommended that he vote for Qatar. He told me something like “these are the interests of France.” Instead of denying, Platini should assume the consequences of his presence at that lunch and his election for the well-being of France and the Qataris. It is a Franco-Qatari affair.” In October 2021, the current head of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, told the court that “it is true that Platini was convinced after lunch.”
Platini’s vote added another three Europeans in favor of the emirate and the rest come from corruption. Of the 22 executives who voted in favor of Qatar, 16 have been prosecuted or imprisoned for their dirty involvement in a tainted process. The United States, to whom this World Cup corresponded, opened the hunt for the corrupt who betrayed. The French police file on ongoing investigations is gigantic: commissions, return of favours, arms and media sales, jobs for friends and relatives, subsidies to members of Sarkozy’s circle who participated in the plot, in In short, an infinite wheel of arrangements between politicians, the military, construction companies, FIFA and big capital from which one constant stands out: the diplomatic and military interests of France modeled the entire negotiation followed by the political interests of Qatar. It is very likely that, despite extensive research and evidence, no one will be convicted. Until today, the French justice system has not charged anyone with regard to the judicial investigation into the attribution of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. They are too big fish for justice to caress them. Soccer belongs to multinationals and states that can buy it. The fans and the players are active intermediaries of a business to which they contribute and which was stolen from them by others. The Qataris are counting on sports enthusiasm to erase the horrendous images of the mistreatment of migrant workers, political and gender persecution, and the energy hole as the days go by. Hopefully not.
In Europe, the immorality impact of this World Cup is broader than in other parts of the world, it is understandable why. Cities like Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille and Strasbourg, Marseille, Berlin or Brussels among many others, refuse to broadcast the World Cup in public spaces. The “fan zones” will not work. A very hypocritical act that deprives the fans of a common space. They would have decided not to send their teams if the moral fear that caused them was so great. Pure theater. The Federations are very sensitive to the call of money and the Qataris pay very well. The World Cup will be played in a hole stinking by the work and grace of an initial betrayal by someone who should have protected the interests of their sport: Platini knelt before his great boss Sarkozy. The others followed the distribution of millions and favors until completing the final betrayal.