London’s Sunday Times reported this past weekend on what it called the “Plot to buy the World Cup.” The story (behind a paywall) details what many already suspected: that FIFA officials who awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar had been bribed. The paper’s accusations are based, it says, on millions of documents and e-mails that came from a senior FIFA official. They allegedly show how former FIFA Vice President Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar doled out $5 million in cash and gifts to soccer officials to secure their support.
The news has thrown Qatar’s already shaky status as host into doubt. William Hill, the largest betting house in the United Kingdom, is now offering even money bets for Qatar to keep the World Cup, and 8-to-11 odds for the emirate to lose it. (A £10 ($16.80) wager on Qatar to keep the event would pay back that £10, plus £10 in winnings; a £10 wager on Qatar losing out would pay back £10, plus £7.30 in winnings.) This is a shift from Sunday, when William Hill was offering 13-to-8 odds that FIFA would move the 2022 World Cup.