The World Cup 2022 host Qatar is being accused of contracting a former United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official to spy on the inner dealings of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, most commonly, FIFA.
FIFA is the highest governing body of football, known as soccer in the US. FIFA organizes and operates the World Cup, the quadrennial international championship that is the most-bet sporting tournament on the planet.
An investigation from the Associated Press published this week claims that Qatar, which secured the 2022 hosting of the World Cup under controversy, hired an ex-CIA agent to keep tabs on FIFA during and after the bidding process.
The AP’s investigation found Qatar sought an edge in securing hosting rights by hiring former CIA officer turned private contractor Kevin Chalker to spy on rival bid teams and key soccer officials who picked the winner in 2010. Chalker also worked for Qatar in the years that followed to keep tabs on the country’s critics in the soccer world,” the AP report claims.
Qatar was selected back in 2010 to host next year’s World Cup. The vastly wealthy Arab country beat out bids from the US, South Korea, Australia, and Japan.
Qatar is set to become the smallest country to ever host a men’s or women’s World Cup. FIFA made concessions to host the soccer tournament there, most importantly changing the date from the summer months to November through December because of Qatar’s desert heat.
“The World Cup is the planet’s most popular sports tournament. It’s also a chance for Qatar, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, to have a coming-out party on the world stage,” the AP report added.
Qatar did not respond to AP inquiries regarding its investigation. But Chalker says he would not “ever engage in illegal surveillance.”
Qatar and FIFA were both heavily criticized on allegations of corruption after the small country was awarded the 2022 Cup. And there have been countless reports of worker abuse and unsafe construction sites in the region since Qatar began building the venues that will host the matches.
The World Cup is the biggest event for sportsbooks around the world. Handle, or the amount wagered, will climb into the billions of dollars range.
“The handle will easily be in the billions around the world,” Sky Betting & Gaming Sports Trader Jacob Blangsted-Barnor told FOX Sports recently.
The 2022 World Cup will be the first World Cup since sports betting was liberalized in the United States. The Supreme Court gave states the right to decide their own sports gambling laws through a ruling in May of 2018.
Today, legal sports betting is operational in 27 states, and five more have passed legislation that will soon govern such gambling.
“It’s always the biggest thing we book in the United Kingdom,” Blangsted-Barnor continued. “And this will be the first World Cup in the United States where you’ll have all these states taking bets.”
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