‘Voilà’ said Sepp Blatter on Friday: the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be played in Qatar. British investigative journalist Andrew Jennings voices his disbelief in an interview with Samindra Kunti. The summer is simply too hot and winter won´t make do for the Premier League according to Jennings.

What is the main lesson from the recent FIFA ExCo meeting?

Andrew Jennings and Walter De Gregorio, FIFA Directions of Communications and Public Affairs, clash. © Play the game / Tine Harden

Andrew Jennings and Walter De Gregorio, FIFA Director of Communications and Public Affairs, clash.
© Play the game / Tine Harden

FIFA don´t know what to do. It is all flimflam and diverse to give reporters something to write about. A taskforce? What on earth is Sheikh Salman [bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa ] going to do? Change the temperature? I have no idea. The World Cup was taken to a temperature zone where it can´t happen. Once you have established that the temperature is too high, it becomes a problem of the Premier League and football in America. Fox are furious about the suggestion that the World Cup may take place during the NFL season. That is not even talking about the fans and the cultural aspects, which FIFA should have taken into account as well. Let Qatar have its own values, but don’t expect you can take a World Cup there. The English Premier League will call the shots. Do you want to go to Rupert Murdoch and tell him there won´t be professional football in England for six weeks? No chance.

What is the ideal solution to the situation with Qatar from Blatter´s point of view?

Blatter wants to get out of it. He knows that it is a disaster. My sources told me that he voted for the U.S. FIFA pushed it too far with Qatar and Blatter was unable to control old, corrupt men [the FIFA Executive Committee]- they saw the money on offer. I have been waiting for a piece like the one David Conn wrote []: it is not so much about Qatar, but about a bunch of crooked old men at FIFA. A revote with an open ballot, just like in any parliament, and transparency – put every document online, is what FIFA needs. There is a lot of freedom of information on governments these days, so why not at FIFA? That would be the end of Blatter.

Sepp Blatter is the ultimate survivor. Jack Warner, Chuck Blazer, Ricardo Teixeira, etc. are all gone from FIFA. Is Blatter the supreme football politician or does he suffer from megalomania?

Don´t ask questions with built-in assumptions! The leadership group at FIFA is a mafia. FIFA are crooks. It is a mafia structure and Blatter buys loyalty with huge unaudited grants of world cup tickets. Go around the national associations and they think Blatter is wonderful. They get a lot of World Cup tickets and no questions asked. FIFA is a corrupt organization and the right question is – what do you do with a corrupt organization? You put them in jail. Ever since João Havelange moved in in 1974 FIFA has been corrupt, but they went too far over Qatar: the old boys took the bribes and FIFA now faces a problem it can´t resolve. The Qatar World Cup can´t be in the summer and European football won´t have it in the winter. The Premier League has 75 % of the players that went to the last World Cup. A winter World Cup would destroy the Premier League. Not that the Premier League wants the World Cup – players only get injured playing dreadful games. The World Cup is 32 countries and that is outrageous. It allows Blatter to buy votes around the national associations, who can say that they went to the World Cup and won money with it. The World Cup has reached a stage where it won´t happen in Qatar – FIFA can huff and puff and talk about taskforces, but it won´t happen. The World Cup should have never gone to Qatar in the first place – it is not about Arabs, it is about temperature. Coupled with the World Cup in Brazil next year and possible protests, this might be the end of Blatter.

With all the scandals surrounding the future World Cups, do you agree that FIFA has monopolised a  human cultural asset?

Yes, FIFA are a bunch of thieves that have taken over the passion of the people – of all skins and colours, of all ethnicities and languages. Passion for football has indeed by hijacked by a bunch of crooks. Remember that Blatter never says a word when someone is forced out. Why? They are mafia. Blatter has promised reform, but it´s simply embarrassing. Let us see what happens in the next twelve months.

Does Sepp Blatter need to be afraid of the NSA and FBI?

I think so. The Feds have been looking at Sepp Blatter for a long time. They have got Jack Warner´s son as a cooperating witness. Chuck Blazer may also be a cooperating witness since I revealed his offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. But the FBI is taking a long time to go through all the bank accounts that Daryan Warner was forced to hand over. Once that has happened I think it may be an exciting time.


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