The British weekly The Sunday Times, has reported with a reference to leaked documents that executives from the Qatari State-run broadcaster Al Jazeera has signed a television contract making the huge offer as the bidding campaigns to host the World Cup were reaching a climax.
It represented a huge conflict of interest for FIFA and a breach of its own rules as Al Jazeera was owned by owned and controlled by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who was also the driving force behind the state’s World Cup bid.
The contract, which appeared to secure the media rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and other FIFA events in the Mena region for $150m each, included an additional $100m payment if the competition was awarded to Qatar. A clause in the contract said: “In the event that the 2022 competition is awarded to the state of Qatar, Al Jazeera shall, in addition to the 2019-22 rights fee, pay to FIFA into the designated account the monetary amount of $100m as a non-refundable contribution towards the costs of the host broadcast production of the 2022 competition.”
The Sunday Times said it has also seen a copy of a second television contract worth $480m, covering the 2026 and 2030 tournaments, awarded to Al Jazeera three years later, which it alleges represents a further conflict of interest for the governing body. The contract was awarded shortly before FIFA cut short Michael Garcia’s long-running investigation into corruption in the 2010 ballot and suppressed its findings.
The $480m contract is the subject of an ongoing Swiss investigation. Prosecutors in the country opened criminal proceedings in October 2017, against Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s former secretary general, and Nasser Al-Khelaïfi, chairman and chief executive of beIN Media Group, over the award of these rights.