Two German public broadcasting networks, ARD and WDR, recently partnered to film a documentary about the goings-on in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup. “The Selling of Football – Sepp Blatter and the Power of FIFA” is set to air on German television tonight, and according to WDR (translated), “provides new evidence that (corruption was involved in) the World Cup awarded to Russia 2018 and Qatar in 2022.”
Reports surfaced that during filming, several journalists and members of the film crews for the networks were arrested and detained by Qatari officials for several days. Some of their footage is said to have been erased, and equipment was allegedly destroyed.
“The WDR team was arrested during a shooting with workers in the Qatari capital Doha, then interrogated by the State Security, the prosecutor, and only released after 14 hours…WDR employees were detained in Qatar for five days left until the Qatari foreign minister allowed to them leave. The camera equipment, laptops and personal mobile phones were confiscated and – contrary to other [promises made] to the German Embassy in Qatar – returned only with a four-week delay. All data has been deleted and equipment was damaged.”
This morning, the story was corroborated by ADR reporter Florian Bauer on his Twitter account.
WDR’s summary of the documentary states that their reporters uncovered a series of damning documents and conversations that revel a number of instances of corruption with FIFA and other organizations involved. An Executive Committee member is said to reveal the details of a private business deal made in exchange for support of Russia and Qatar’s hosting bids. The networks also claim to have bank documents that prove the deposit of funds intended for FIFA development projects into the personal account of the Confederation of African Football’s president.
At the time of the arrests, the documentary team was investigating the living and working conditions of migrant workers during the construction of World Cup stadiums in Qatar.
News surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups has reached the dark stage where accusations of any manner of foul play are completely believable, if not expected. While there has yet to be an official response from the Qatari government — or FIFA, or any other entity targeted in the documentary — it would come as no surprise if there was a concerted effort to quiet voices who sought to expose the truths behind two tournaments, events no fair-minded person can view without a harshly critical eye.