Millions in bribes paid by Qatar to FIFA members to host 2022 World Cup come to light

An extensive investigation revealed a number of documents from Qatar National Bank (QNB) showing payments in excess of $330,000,000.

When Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it was a huge surprise to the world. Almost no one understood how a country with no football tradition, no proper climate for football and an alarming human rights record was voted to host one of the most important sports competitions on the planet.

However, a few years later, France Football magazine exposed the famed "Qatargate", a corruption scandal about alleged bribes by the Persian Gulf state to buy alliances within FIFA with the aim of hosting the World Cup. Now, 13 years later, the alleged payments by Qatar have finally been revealed in an extensive investigation by the publication Tablet, which specializes in topics related to Israel and the Middle East.

"Qatar National Bank (QNB) documents, included in a filing made by a Philadelphia-based policy organization fighting a subpoena from a former Qatari-hired American lobbyist, reveal the secret cost of Qatar’s bid to put on the biggest sporting event on Earth," it reads in the report by Tablet. "The documents record over 210 million pounds in payments, then worth over $330 million, to members of the FIFA committee who voted on which country would host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments in late 2010. They list specific names, bank account numbers, and amounts of money received."

According to the investigation, court documents show payments to 14 of the 22 FIFA members who chose the venues for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. These bribes, which were documented in a QNB balance sheet linked to the Qatari Embassy in London, spanned from 2009 to 2010.


In total, $553,000,000 was paid to about 22 people and $330,000,000 to the 14 members of FIFA's executive committee.

The payments ended up in tax havens such as Monaco and Jersey, which have fewer controls than more regulated countries.

According to Tablet, payments to senior FIFA members were not equal in disbursement, as there were bribes much higher than others.

For example, Paraguayan Nicolás Leoz, the deceased former head of Conmebol from 1986 to 2013, received $8.5 million.

The price of that bribe is considerably lower than that of Vitaly Mutko, Russia's sports minister between 2008 and 2016, chairman of Russia's successful bid for the 2018 World Cup and deputy prime minister from 2016 to 2020.

According to Tablet, Mutko received two payments of over a million pounds: $72.6 million in February 2009 and $34 million in December 2010.

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How did the documents exposing FIFA and Qatar come to light?

According to the report, the lengthy report explains that the balance of the account, where the alleged bribes appreciated, was requested by a former Qatari government employee who at the time worked for the London office of Qatar National Bank.

This QNB report was obtained by an unnamed person "who was involved in conducting some of the transactions at the direction of superiors" and who was later "terminated after reporting a sexual assault by a senior bank official."

According to Tablet, the controversial excerpts from the accounts were reviewed by Fiona Marsh, who is an expert in document forensics with experience as an officer of London's Metropolitan Police Department.

Marsh, in a report dated December 2017, now filed into the federal court record, stated that he was "unable to find any evidence that the questioned documents are other than genuine."