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The 2022 train may have left the station
by Paul Kennedy, June 6th, 2011 7:19PM

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TAGS:  fifa, world cup 2022

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[FIFA IN CRISIS] Just what are the chances of a re-vote on the 2022 World Cup? Only two weeks ago, FIFA President Sepp Blatter couldn't rule out Qatar being stripped of its award of the 2022 World Cup. Last week German soccer federation president Theo Zwanziger said an examination into bribery charges against Qatar must be undertaken.

But with each passing day, the likelihood that Qatar 2022 will be revisited looks less and less. On Monday, Blatter said he would not re-open the Qatar 2022 file. And Qatar announced construction on the first air-conditioned stadium should be finished by 2015. Heck, the way things are going, Qatar might be ready for 2022 before Brazil is 2014.

Blatter is believed to have voted for the USA over Qatar in the final round of balloting for the 2022 World Cup host. A Qatar-hosted World Cup -- or more specifically, a Qatar-hosted World Cup in summer -- is a major inconvenience for FIFA after South Africa 2010 organized in fits and starts and Brazil 2014 sure to go down to the wire.

But if you believe Blatter is all about power, then a Qatar victory over the USA, whose candidacy he never publicly promoted, suited his political interests just fine.

If he assumed -- correctly -- that the danger to his reelection came from Asia, then the Qatar victory gave him the leverage to remove Mohamed bin Hammam, once he got rid of his other, more serious rival, Dr. Chung Mong-Joon, whose own reelection as Asia's FIFA vice president he quashed in January by running Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan.

Was Qatar 2022 "bought," as FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke alleged? Evidence of money passing hands may never be forthcoming, but the Qatar 2022 operation was coordinated on a scale larger than anyone ever imagined at the time.

It is assumed Zwanziger's predecessor on the FIFA executive committee, Franz Beckenbauer, voted for Qatar despite the Kaiser's long-standing relationship with the United States, where he played for many years with the Cosmos.

Beckenbauer's vote had everything to do with business, and little with soccer. Qatar is expected to spend $65 billion on the 2022 World Cup -- on everything from stadiums, to a railway system to a new city that will rise from the desert and hold 200,000 people -- and German construction companies are, you guessed it, heavily invested in the work.

In the big picture, bin Hammam stood no chance against Blatter. If Qatar wanted talk about a re-vote to go away, bin Hammam's exit would surely help.

A source familiar with Qatari soccer politics says bin Hammam was never close to the Qatari royal family and was just a pawn in its game of realpolitik to win the 2022 bid.

According to press reports out of Europe, bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy under pressure from the royals in their bid to salvage 2022.

MBH's exit was all made easier, of course, by the Caribbean cash-for-votes scandal in which he found himself ensnared with Concacaf boss Jack Warner.

FIFA has hired former G-man Louis Freeh to look into the Port of Spain pow-wow where $1 million in $100 bills is alleged to have been handed out.

If Zwanziger had his way, the work of the sleuths at Freeh Group International Solutions -- Freeh's international risk-management firm -- should probably be expanded to determine just how was the Qatar 2022 bid won.

Then again, Zwanziger may not have gotten the memo. It's full speed ahead on the work for Qatar 2022.

After all, the architect of all those air-conditioned stadiums is the firm Albert Speer & Partner -- as in Albert Speer, Jr., son of Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler's Minister of Armaments and War Production -- and Deutsche Bahn is the exclusive partner of Qatar Railways Company on its $25 billion railway project.

Unfortunately, the Qatar 2022 train may have left the station.



0 comments
  1. David Huff
    commented on: June 7, 2011 at 12:47 p.m.
    Just follow the $$$ trail and all the answers can be found as to how WC 2022 ultimately came about. This gives new meaning to the term "WC bid", perhaps in the future FIFA can just hold an open auction to determine future WC hosts, it would make for a great TV reality show.

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