German journalists detained in Qatar while investigating controversial 2022 FIFA World Cup hosting win

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

By their own accounts yesterday and today, a number of journalists from German public broadcasters ARD and WDR were detained by Qatari police and secret service for fourteen hours and forbidden from leaving the country for five days while working on a story about the country's controversial win of the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Allegedly, the journalists were arrested while working on a documentary critical of FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) president Sepp Blatter. They were forced to turn over all materials to authorities, and their equipment was confiscated and damaged.

Journalist Florian Bauer tweeted yesterday, "#Qatar2022 ahead of new criticism. Arrested in #Qatar, all material erased, equipment demolished. What is #fifa saying to this?"

Qatar's controversial win of the 2022 World Cup hosting rights has been surrounded with claims of corruption among FIFA's leadership. FIFA held an investigation into the allegations relating to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids which found no major Qatari corruption, however the leader of the investigation, former US Attorney Michael J. Garcia, later claimed FIFA whitewashed the investigation's findings.

While the investigation found ex-FIFA vice president Mohamed bin Hamman, a Qatari, had bribed officials in his 2011 FIFA presidential campaign, the report claimed these payments were not related to the Qatari World Cup bid. It was alleged shortly after by The Sunday Times that bin Hamman secured the Qatari with illegal vote swapping.

The detainment of journalists investigating allegations of Qatar's corruption adds to the continuing controversy surrounding the 2022 World Cup, including human rights concerns following reports of deaths of over 400 Indian and about 400 Nepalese workers in Qatar during the time Qatar has been building the site for the competition.