The FIFA World Cup games are officially here, and the world has not imploded. Qatar is a battle with Ecuador and FIFA’s in a battle with the world as it fends off claims of match-fixing.
Soccer is moved by two forces. One is the passion that this sport generates in millions of people. It’s something magical, 90 minutes (plus any extra) for fans to escape from existence.
The other force is money. From the million-dollar broadcasting rights of the leagues and tournaments to the paraphernalia of each team, soccer is a vast source of income. Some believe FIFA has been nothing more than a breeding ground for greed, and this allowed a recent rumor of match-fixing to run wild. However, the rumor may have been just that and nothing more.
Throwing the First Kick
Someone launched a rumor that Qatar began offering bribes to Ecuadorian players to throw the first game. The team allegedly offered around $47 million if the South American squad would take a dive.
That rocked FIFA as it still continues to try to clean its tarnished name. However, once everyone began digging into the rumor a little deeper, they found that it wasn’t true.
The source of the story was journalist Amjad Taha, a Bahrain national living in England. The use of journalist with Taha must be taken loosely, as he has a history of distributing false information, according to several media sources.
Just a heads up if anyone sees a story about Qatar bribing Ecuador 7.4 million to lose the opening game – it started here from a well-known disinformation account who is somehow also the main source in the story @amjadt25 . It’s already got thousands of RTs though pic.twitter.com/2EjjvqEbBV
— Marc Owen Jones (@marcowenjones) November 17, 2022
Taha was allegedly only trying to give Qatar a bad name. This is according to Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Hamad bin Khalifa University Marc Owen Jones. As a possible indication that the information was false, Taha’s tweet that began the bonfire has been removed.
If Qatar had, in fact, paid Ecuadorian players to throw the game, it didn’t get its money’s worth. As of the time of publication, Ecuador is up 2-0.
FIFA’s Troubled Past
The fact that there may not have been any truth to the rumor doesn’t mean FIFA doesn’t have skeletons in its closet. The history of soccer has a long journey through certain illegal, or at the very least questionable, activities.
Match-fixing, ticket scalping, illegal gambling, mob control and bribery. FIFA has a sordid past that came undone in May 2017.
That’s when Swiss authorities arrested 14 people in a hotel in Zurich. Among these were nine FIFA associates who faced allegations of bribery, money laundering and fraud. This later became known as FIFA Gate, which ended with the resignation and the banishment of former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.
Qatar has had its own troubles, allegedly relying on slave labor to build its stadiums and, despite preaching inclusivity at the World Cup opening ceremony, being a country rife with human rights violations. Despite all this, both FIFA and various media outlets have worked very hard to “clean up” on behalf of the host.
Stars like David Beckham promoted the World Cup and media outlets like ESPN spent a lot of money showing the wonders of Qatar. The world hasn’t decided if it was worth it.
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