The controversy surrounding Fifa’s decision to grant Qatar the rights more than ten years ago still exists as the football World Cup approaches. Human rights violations, violent legislation, and worker fatalities have given Fifa and Qatar a bad reputation. Nevertheless, sportswashing and football were born in Argentina, which hosted the 1978 World Cup at a time when the military dictatorship there had suppressed rallies and hundreds of dissidents had vanished, been tortured, or been killed.
Qatar is just the most recent example of Fifa and sportwashing since Argentina in 1978
The Navy Mechanics School, which acted as a torture facility, was only a few streets from where Argentine commander Daniel Passarella raised the prize. Argentina 1978 was a pivotal World Cup for Fifa in terms of football becoming into a commodity that could fill its coffers with millions of dollars.
The four-part documentary doesn’t only focus on Fifa’s collapse under its longtime head Sepp Blatter; rather, it leads up to it.
When Fifa changed from being a body that organised World Cups to one that learned how to advertise, sell, and profit from the World Cup in 1974, Fifa Uncovered began. Joo Havelange, a Brazilian businessman and swimmer who ran for office on a pledge to end apartheid South Africa, is credited with having the idea. He employed Sepp Blatter, a Swiss technical director, as soon as he took office. Because FIFA was short on funds, Blatter, who had skills in public relations, began attempting to enlist sponsors.
In 1998, Blatter, who is currently suspended from all football-related activity, persuaded Havelnage to resign as FIFA president. Blatter held the position until the corruption scandal cost FIFA its reputation in 2015.
But since Havelange’s reign, corruption has existed. Horst Dassler, the then-CEO of Adidas, formed an organisation called International Sports and Leisure (ISL), and Fifa granted it complete marketing rights. Havelange received payment in exchange. A few decades later, the ISL crumbled, leaving Fifa’s coffers in ruins.
The winning bids for 2018 and 2022 were won by Russia and Qatar, respectively, despite stiff competition from England and the United States. In the case of Qatar, enough red flags were raised in an internal Fifa assessment, including the issue of heat, but none of the members of the Executive Committee had read the report or thought it was a concern.
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