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The Ugly Game The Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup By Heidi Blake & Jonathan Calvert

Release date: 28th April, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: £16.99
Our Price: £9.00
You Save: £7.99 (47%)
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Forget Lance Armstrong; dodgy agents; the worryingly swift rise in the number of gangster owners of football clubs; allegations of wholesale doping in athletics, cycling and a host of other sports; football managers handed envelopes containing hundreds of thousands of pounds, for all are minor misdemeanours compared with the biggest sporting scandal of them all: Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

To call the Qatari success a surprise is an understatement of mammoth proportions, but as this incredible book alleges, the Gulf state could not have won the World Cup hosting rights without the widespread co-operation of corrupt FIFA and other officials.

Eyebrows were raised as soon as a tiny nation with negligible football tradition but billions of spare dollars won the bidding process. However, it wasn’t until a Sunday newspaper received a cache of millions of documents from an anonymous whistle-blower that evidence of corruption on an industrial scale emerged.

The already tarnished reputation of FIFA president Sepp Blatter is further damaged by this book’s allegations, perhaps the most convincing being his deal with Qatar to protect his presidency. In return for a promise that the desert state would not be stripped of the World Cup, Blatter allegedly extracted a promise from Qatar’s royal family that the nation’s top football official, Mohamed bin Hammam, would ditch his challenge for the FIFA presidency as a result, ironically, of being ‘caught’ in a bribery scandal.

Blatter, of course, was elected unopposed, since when football’s governing body has ignored the mountains of evidence of corruption which effectively underpinned the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar.

Late last year, FIFA’s ‘ethics committee’ cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing, emphasising that as far as they could see, bin Hammam had no role in the bid. The committee even went as far as criticising England’s bid campaign, an unnecessary censure which many felt had Blatter’s fingerprints all over it.

FIFA went on to say that it had “verified internally” that no secret deals had been made during the run-up to the 2022 World Cup award, a statement which, as this book proves beyond reasonable doubt, does little more than take us all for mugs.


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