Qatar Accused Of ‘Black Ops’ Plot To Sabatoge World Cup Bid After Emails Leaked

The Sunday Times is out with a bombshell front page story this morning that’s stirring fresh outrage over longtime rumors and accusations of wrongdoing and corruption in Qatar’s campaign to secure hosting for the 2022 World Cup, which it was awarded by FIFA in 2010. 

The Times has obtained emails it says shows a successful “black ops” campaign involving ex-CIA agents working on behalf of Qatar to smear chief rivals Australia and the United States, as well as countries like Japan and South Korea.

According to the Sunday Times:

Emails from a whistleblower show how the bid paid a public relations firm and former CIA agents to pump out fake propaganda about its main rivals, the United States and Australia, during its successful campaign to host the next World Cup.

The campaign involved recruiting influential people to attack the bids in their own countries, seeking to create the impression that there was “zero support” for the World Cup domestically.

This is perhaps the most interesting twist to the story — the charge that “influencers” were paid to propagandize inside their own countries to the impression there was “zero support” among the population to host the World Cup. Thus former CIA agents used their experience to allegedly manipulate public opinion domestically while on the dime of an Arab gulf country. 

Image source: Zee News India

Crucial to understanding the significance is the fact that FIFA, soccer’s powerful governing body, requires that bidding countries demonstrate strong support from within their domestic population to host the World Cup; yet bidders are prohibited under FIFA guidelines from making “any written or oral statement of any kind, whether adverse or otherwise, about the bids or candidatures of any other member association.”

The Times, however, says Qatari authorities launched an aggressive campaign to do just this when they hired a US-based PR firm, paying huge sums to provoke a negative public reaction to the rival bids through “fake propaganda”.

One email was sent to Qatar’s deputy bid leader Ali al-Thawadi, and allegedly includes awareness and discussion of plots to spread “poison” against other bidders.

While the specific leaked emails, which the Times says were provided by a whistle-blower that was part of the Qatar team that spearheaded the 2022 bid, have not been published, the BBC summarizes their contents as follows

  • A respected academic was paid $9,000 to write a negative report on the huge economic cost of an American World Cup, which was then distributed to news media around the world.
  • Journalists, bloggers and high-profile figures were recruited in each country to hype up negative aspects of their respective bids.
  • A group of American physical education teachers were recruited to ask their US Congressmen to oppose a US World Cup on the grounds that the money would be better used on high school sports.
  • Grassroots protests were organised at rugby games in Australia opposing the country’s bid.
  • Intelligence reports were compiled on individuals involved in rival bids.

We find the allegation involving Congressional especially alarming, as other media reports emphasize the group of American educators paid by Qatar planned a resolution for US lawmakers to consider on the “harmful” effects of the World Cup during the very week FIFA voting was underway. 

Thus far many of the specifics of the leaked emails have not been available, such as names of American “influencers” and PR representatives involved. 

Qatar for its part vehemently denies the allegations, saying through the state Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy that it “rejected” all the claims made by the Sunday Times

Over the past number of years Qatar has faced significant scrutiny concerning what’s been described as an army of migrant laborers building its World Cup facilities while given severely inadequate pay and housing. 

Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, and Russian President Vladimir Putin in a recent World Cup hosting handover ceremony. Image source: AFP/Getty via The Week

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Author: Tyler Durden