Qatar will be funding a new agency within the Organization of American States (OAS) focused on weeding out corruption in sports.
According to the Miami Herald, the new Centre of Excellence for Major Sporting Events and Sustainable Development (the name is not a joke) will be a partnership between the OAS and the International Center for Sport Security (ICSS), a Qatar-based non-profit organization that focuses on security, safety and integrity in sport.
The ICSS claims to have “no private or governmental interests,” despite the fact that the organization’s president and vice-president have deep connections with the Qatari military, and 70 percent of its funding comes from the Qatari government, according to ICSS spokesman Stuart Hodge, as reported by Reuters.
Asked by The Herald about the new agency’s funding, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said it would be funded by “international financing,” noting United Nations agencies as a potential source. Pushed further, when asked if “Qatar would be a major donor,” Almagro told The Herald, “Probably, yes.”
Qatar, as you’ve probably heard by now, has been facing quite a bit of scrutiny for allegedly engaging in shenanigans to procure the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In fact, the the FBI is still investigating Qatar’s 2022 bid, which was largely structured by the Qatari government and individuals closely affiliated with the government. So, at least optically, it’s, at a minimum, entertaining that a Qatari-goverment-backed venture is being given a mandate to clean up corruption in sport in the Americas.
That’s right, having f*** you money really is an amazing thing.
“Anyone who wants to help us and cooperate in this fight against corruption is welcome,” Almagro told The Herald. “If we later find out that we have to continue the rest of the way alone, we will continue alone.”
Almagro’s posture isn’t as silly as it may appear on the surface. It’s an easy way to accept money for a venture during an on-going investigation while leaving the door open to walk away from the partnership if Qatar is found to have participated in unscrupulous behavior during the 2022 bidding process. As it stands, Qatar’s bid is merely under investigation, and nothing has been proved by a competent body beyond a reasonable doubt.
So in the meantime, look forward to Qatari money backing the push to drive corruption from sport. And try not to chuckle. There are much worse ways to spend money.