World Cup: conflicts of interest

One of the interesting questions arising from the Sunday Times report of the allegations that the success of Qatar’s implausible bid to host the 2022 World Cup may have owed something to, er, bribery is how Al-Jazeera would report it. Al-J is not only based in Qatar but funded by its ruler, which means that there are, effectively, two Al-Jazeeras. The first is the network that does interesting journalistic work across the world. The other is the one that, er, covers domestic news and politics in Qatar, and I’m told that it is pretty tame by comparison with the international version.

The World Cup bribery story is therefore a tricky one for the network, so I thought it’d be interesting to see how it was covered in Al-Jazeera English. I had to dig for it on the website, but eventually found this deadpan report.

Qatar’s World Cup 2022 organisers have vehemently denied allegations by a British newspaper that the country bribed FIFA officials to gain the right to the tournament.

The organising committee’s statement on Sunday said that it “always upheld the highest standards of ethics and integrity in its successful bid”, after claims in the Sunday Times that a total of $5m was paid by a Qatari official to FIFA members.

The piece also carries this quote (presumably from the aforementioned committee:

“We vehemently deny all allegations of wrongdoing. We will take whatever steps are necessary to defend the integrity of Qatar’s bid and our lawyers are looking into this matter.”

Lawyers, eh?