New revelations on France’s role in awarding the World Cup to Qatar
Revelations from Radio France and France 2 show that French justice is wondering about possible counterparties negotiated in 2010 by Nicolas Sarkozy after a secret lunch with senior Qatar officials and Michel Platini’s decisive vote in favor of the emirate for the awarding of the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA’s former number two, Frenchman Jérôme Valcke, said recently about the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and Michel Platini, then UEFA President and Vice-President of the FIFA: “There was a turnaround, a sudden change in Michel which is linked to something. Either a realization that Qatar was the best candidate, or a lunch where all that was discussed”.
The lunch in question was secretly held on November 23, 2010 at the Élysée. It is the subject of revelations from Radio France and France 2, which affirm this Thursday that the former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has made a great investment so that the competition is attributed to the emirate and that it invests massively in the economy of France.
A judicial investigation has been open since 2016 for active and passive corruption regarding the conditions for awarding the Mondial. This November 2010 lunch is at the heart of the case. It would have “constituted a decisive turning point” in favor of Qatar, according to a report by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, quoted by the public service media.
Qatar appointed nine days later
In addition to Nicolas Sarkozy and Michel Platini, who would have discussed separately at first, five other people would have participated in this meeting. Among them: Qatari Crown Prince (and now Emir) Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani and Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani. According to Sepp Blatter, then FIFA President Michel Platini called him shortly after and told him that the French head of state had “recommended him to vote for Qatar”. Nine days later, on December 2, 2010, the Gulf country was chosen by fourteen votes to eight.
Michel Platini, who had therefore ended up voting for Qatar after having been for the United States, was placed in police custody in 2019 before emerging free without any charge against him. He would have denied having been asked by Nicolas Sarkozy to bring his voice for Qatar. “But I understood who he was supporting,” the former footballer would have said.
PSG and Rafales in return?
According to Radio France, investigators wonder if Nicolas Sarkozy obtained compensation in exchange for the vote for Qatar. Several avenues have been explored: the takeover of Paris Saint-Germain by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, the creation of the beIN Sports channel with the TV rights for Ligue 1 and those for the World Cup, or even the sale of Rafale combat (carried out in 2015 for 6.3 billion euros).
Also, an interministerial note submitted to the investigation would mention “contract opportunities linked to the World Cup in Qatar and infrastructure projects” for French companies. In this regard, the investigators would be intrigued by a supposed meeting between a Qatari businessmen and Claude Guéant, who was secretary general of the Élysée. The interview would have taken place the day after the said lunch. Finally, possible links between Qatar and the financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential campaign in 2007 would be studied.
Source: RMC Sport