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Former FIFA insider calls for a fresh vote on the 2022 World Cup
The tournament was awarded to Qatar following a FIFA ballot in December 2010
Alexandra Wrage says rerunning the vote is the only way to restore confidence in the World Cup
Former New York attorney Michael Garcia is investigating allegations of corruption around the vote
Leading former FIFA insider Alexandra Wrage is calling for a new vote over the selection of the 2022 World Cup hosts given the ongoing controversy surrounding the decision to award Qatar the event.
Without any football pedigree and despite concerns over staging the world’s most prestigious tournament in a desert climate, the Middle East nation emerged as the surprise winner of the vote by FIFA’S Executive Committee in December 2010, when beating the United States in a 14-8 vote in the decisive round.
The choice has raised far more questions than answers.
Notably regarding the season in which the World Cup would be played. There has been repeated talk of switching the tournament to winter in a bid to avoid the sweltering heat of Qatar’s summers.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has also admitted that the vote to decide both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups led to possible collusion among bidding nations.
Another issue has been many allegations of corruption – with the latest surrounding former FIFA official, Jack Warner, which were revealed earlier this week.
The Qatari World Cup committee as well as prominent FIFA officials have steadfastly denied the allegations. But the questions prompted FIFA to create an Independent Governance Committee (IGC) in 2011.
The aim was for the IGC to propose methods to restore the reputation of football’s global body.
Read: FIFA official envisages winter World Cup
Yet former member Wrage – an anti-corruption authority who resigned in April 2013 over frustration at what she described as FIFA’s resistance to reform – believes drastic action is needed to correct the decision to award the tournament to Qatar. Even current Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger has described it as a “blatant mistake.”
“The only way to restore confidence in the World Cup selection process is to rerun the vote,” Wrage, the president of non-profit international anti-bribery group Trace, told CNN.
“Having said that, I don’t expect it to happen and expect, instead, that the process will be further contorted with a controversial move to winter and a great deal of stalling and shifting on the human rights issues raised by the selection of Qatar.”
The treatment of migrant construction workers toiling around the clock to deliver new stadiums and, in some cases, whole new cities ahead of the finals has been another unwanted aspect of FIFA’s decision to hand the finals to Qatar.
The global body has since tasked Germany’s Zwanziger with addressing the convoluted issue of labor rights in Qatar. A report is expected at this week’s FIFA conference in Zurich, which starts on Thursday.
FIFA’s Ethics Committee, headed by the former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York – Michael Garcia – is also busy, currently investigating allegations of corruption regarding the vote for the 2022 World Cup site.
The American may have more paperwork to sift through after a British newspaper published a damning story this week.
The Daily Telegraph claims a company owned by former Executive Committee member Jack Warner invoiced one owned by Qatar’s former FIFA vice-president and Asian football chief Mohammed Bin Hammam for a substantial sum of funds within a month of the 2022 voting decision.
“I have no comment to make on any article – but feel free to write whatever you wish,” Warner told CNN in response to the claims.
Qatar’s 2022 World Cup Organising Committee has also issued a statement to refute the allegations made in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday.
“The 2022 Bid Committee strictly adhered to FIFA’s bidding regulations in compliance with their code of ethics,” it read.
“The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and the individuals involved in the 2022 Bid Committee are unaware of any allegations surrounding business dealings between private individuals.”
Amidst the constant questioning over the decision to take the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time since the competition started in 1930, Wrage believes more still needs to be done by FIFA.
“To restore confidence, the public needs to see a serious and broad investigation of all allegations - with prompt and meaningful consequences for any wrongdoing,” she argues.
“In spite of some recent governance improvements, there is still a widespread sense that FIFA provides far too little transparency.”
Shortly after her resignation from the IGC, Wrage wrote a piece for Forbes.com stating her belief that the “only entity capable of insisting on transparency at FIFA is the Swiss government.”
This came after FIFA rejected proposals from the IGC to introduce two members to the Executive Committee who were independent as well as a compromise proposal that the Chairman of FIFA’s Audit Committee should be an independent observer at all ExCo meetings.
Seeking comment, CNN contacted the four other nations beaten by Qatar: the U.S., Australia, South Korea and Japan. Only the latter replied, saying that it “does not have a comment on a supposition.”
Australia has previously said it will pursue compensation if the 2022 finals are switched from summer to winter months.