In a departure from our typical reports of domestic false claims and fraud, today’s post discusses the ongoing battle between courageous whistleblower Phaedra Almajid and her bid to expose massive fraud in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup soccer games. The games, which are governed by the global soccer superpower FIFA, are held every four years in various cities across the world. However, city officials must endure a lengthy and grueling bidding process to win the honor of hosting the event, which typically brings about an unprecedented economic boost and notoriety for the victorious city.
In today’s post, we will discuss recent allegations of fraud within this historic bidding process, which were brought about by a member of the team striving to win a bid for the sovereign Arab nation of Qatar, which is located on the northeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
Details of World Cup whistleblower allegations
According to allegations launched by Ms. Almajid, who served in the senior communications role in the ultimately successful bid by Qatar to host the 2018 World Cup games, several executive authorities from various nations were provided extremely lucrative kickbacks by FIFA to vote for certain nations during the (mostly) democratic process to determine the upcoming host nations.
More specifically, Ms. Almajid and another whistleblower who worked on Australia’s 2022 bid team alleged that three FIFA officials representing African nations were paid $1.5 million each in exchange for their promise to vote for Qatar to host the 2018 World Cup games. Despite vehement denials by each FIFA official, the organization launched its own investigation into the matter – which was ultimately dismissed
Whistleblower experiences major backlash & retaliation
Unlike the protections against whistleblower retaliation contained within the American False Claims Act, claims of fraud made against the FIFA World Cup bidding process often fall on deaf – and retaliatory – ears.
With regard to Ms. Almajid’s claim, FIFA officials agreed to review the matter under a guise of anonymity, which it quickly broke following a public dissemination of the investigative report – which thinly veils the identity of the two whistleblowers involved in the claim. In a 430-page report on the alleged fraud, FIFA cleared the Qatar bidding committees of wrongdoing, and clearly referred to Ms. Almajid (although not by name) as the initial source of information.
Since, Ms. Almajid has experienced threats to her safety and that of her family. She has reiterated that the FIFA investigation was nothing more than a “formality” that has introduced her to “a whole new culture of paranoia, fear, and threats.”
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