Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Platoch, say it ain't so - Rumors continue to swirl with Qatar 2022 World Cup

The whole Qatar World Cup 2022 debacle continues. And this blog has always contended that it was a catastrophic mistake to allow a tiny nation, with little footballing pedigree, in one of the most inhospitable weather locations to host one of the most important global sporting event. The controversy only gets worse with reports that the president of the UEFA - Michel Platini - is suspected of being illegally swayed by Bin Hammam to vote for Qatar.

My admiration for Platini is also no secret. He was my childhood footy hero. I remember him dominating the 1984 European Cup, scoring a ridiculous amount of goals - 9. Putting away two hat tricks, against Belgium and Yugoslavia. As well as hitting the winning goal versus Portugal in Marseilles in the dying minutes of extra time to go to the finals.

He also has done some wonderful things post playing career - a short lived stint as manager of Les Bleus. Undefeated in qualification for the 1992 Euros, but playing poorly in the tournament. Platini was instrumental in getting France to host the World Cup in 1998 and influential in getting the Euros there in 2016. His efforts with financial fair play have not been perfect but a move in the right direction as have his emphasis on getting greater participation from more nations in the Champions League.

Of course I do not agree with everything he has lobbied for. I do not believe he is right with his ideas around expansion of the Euros, big mistake. Nor his idea of having multiple cities host the Euro championships or even the crazy idea of inviting a non-European nation to the tournament...huh???

The main accuser is the Daily Telegraph - click here for article. Based on the article there is a trail of meetings prior to the final vote for the World Cup where Platini met with Bin Hammam, at a private breakfast. As well as meetings with the then French President - Sarkozy. Does this mean that Platini took a bribe to vote for Qatar? That is a very dangerous leap to make. And one has to judge the source. It is no secret that there is no love lost between the british press and Platini. Yes there seems some sketchiness that Platini's son Laurent was given a job as head of a Burrda a Qatar sports company. But getting someone a job is far from the accusations of large sums of money being given to influence votes. I am sure that every nation that is bidding for the tournament sends representatives to lobby influential voters. So let us not act as if these types of meetings are not happening all the time - just look at any Olympic bid...Socchi anyone?

If there emerges some more nefarious information that comes out about these meetings, then shame on Platini. And if there is more damaging information that comes out, I would be the first to say Platoch would need to step down. However, let's not allow a witch hunt by the British press be accepted as fact.

Regardless of how you look at it, the Qatar World Cup bid remains embroiled in controversy. Something that is never too far away from anything Sepp Blatter is associated with.  I am hoping that somehow the bidding process will become so tainted that Blatter has no choice but to reopen the bidding process. The Qatar World Cup has been a disaster...8 years before the games are even scheduled to be played! There are no shortage of people, myself included, that is looking for any loop hole to find a way to take the tournament out of Qatar and give it to a more legitimate host.

And the drama continues.

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