FIFA sponsors concerned over Qatar World Cup investigation, human rights may be considered in future

Laurence Griffiths

World Cup sponsors have taken note of FIFA's investigation into alleged corruption in the Qatar World Cup bid, while FIFA may consider human rights in future bids.

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The fallout from The Sunday Times' reports on how Mohamed bin Hammam allegedly bribed voters to win Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup has continued on two fronts. The first is the alleged corruption, with World Cup sponsors saying that they are watching FIFA's investigation closely. The other is related to Qatar's horrific human rights record, with FIFA taking steps to make human rights a consideration in future World Cup bidding, according to the Guardian.

The Sunday Times has reported that bin Hammam paid over $5 million to win Qatar the World Cup, primarily focusing on winning the African votes, then spending another $1.7 million to bribe officials and win Asian votes. The Qatar organizing committee has said that bin Hammam, a Qatari who was the president of the Asian Football Confederation and a FIFA executive committee member before being expelled from FIFA, was not a part of their bid committee and, if he did anything, did so independently.

Now adidas, Sony and Visa, all primary FIFA sponsors with a very visible presence at all FIFA events, have said that they are keeping a close eye on the FIFA investigation being conducted by former U.S. prosecutor Michael Garcia.

Sony went as far as to demand an "appropriate investigation," while Visa said that they expect FIFA to take "appropriate actions to respond to the report and its recommendations."

Adidas' statement read: "The negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for FIFA and its partners."

FIFA has six primary sponsors who combine to pay roughly $180 million annually. Emirates Airlines, Hyundai/Kia and Coca-Cola are the three others, none of whom have commented.

Many people in FIFA, including president Sepp Blatter, have said that if any wrongdoing is found whatsoever, FIFA must conduct a re-vote. The results of Garcia's report are supposed to be presented to FIFA in a late July meeting.

Many people in FIFA have said that if any wrongdoing is found whatsoever, FIFA must conduct a re-vote.

Aside from the allegations that Qatar offered bribes to win the right to host the World Cup, there are concerns about their human rights record and whether it is right to reward such a country with the world's biggest sporting event. To this point, FIFA has not considered human rights in its World Cup bid process, but they say that could change going forward.

FIFA are drawing up new bidding rules that will demand voters consider a country's human rights record when awarding the right to host the World Cup, according to the Guardian. Those rules, if adopted, would go into effect in bidding for the 2026 World Cup or if there is a re-vote for 2022.

The International Trade Union Confederation has said that 1,000 workers have died already building infrastructure for the World Cup and that "kafala," the system that governs workers in Qatar, is "a form of modern day slavery."

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