You don’t say! Actually, Rosalind Helderman does, and the Washington Post reporter notes that the smell around the Qatar-Clinton Foundation relationship isn’t just a case of hindsight. Even at the time that the Qataris poured cash into the foundation, allegations of bribery in FIFA’s award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar had British journalists energized. Add in the worker conditions for the venues being built, and it all adds up to a very odd — and corrupt — choice:
According to the foundation’s Web site, which lists donors based on the amounts of their total contributions organized by ranges, the Qatari committee gave between $250,000 and $500,000. The Persian Gulf nation, known for seeking to build alliances in Washington by giving money to think tanks and other influential organizations, has given the Clinton Foundation between $1 million and $5 million over the years, according to the charity’s Web site.
The potential problems of associating with the Qatar World Cup effort were clear well before the foundation’s 2013 event. In May 2011, five months after Qatar won the right to host the cup, members of the British parliament alleged that some on FIFA’s executive committee had been paid millions to award the bid to Qatar, and British media had aggressively investigated the issue.
And in July 2012, FIFA appointed former U.S. Attorney Michael J. Garcia to probe the bid process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, an investigation that was underway at the time of Qatar’s sponsorship of the Clinton Global Initiative. …
Allegations of bribery weren’t the only problems facing the Qataris at the time of the CGI event. That same week, the Guardian newspaper published an expose of labor conditions at World Cup construction sites in Qatar, concluding that dozens of migrant Nepalese workers had died that summer alone — and estimating that thousands would die before the projects were finished.
The Qataris denied the Guardian report, while the Clintons said that philanthropy shouldn’t sit in judgment on its benefactors. That’s probably what they hope voters will think about politics too, but the problem for the Clintons is that all of these corrupt relationships cross traditional liberal constituencies. It’s tough to be pro-LGBT if you’re enabling regimes that throw gays off of rooftops, and it’s tough to be pro-worker when you’re shaking hands with people who are killing them by the dozen to build sports stadiums as monuments to their rule.
It might get worse for anyone associated with FIFA, perhaps including the Clintons. Former FIFA VP Jack Warner, arrested in the bribery probe, bought a political ad on Trinidad television to announce that he’s going to spill the beans on all the corruption in soccer — and that he fears for his life in doing so:
Former FIFA vice president Jack Warner has said he will provide evidence to link FIFA officials, including embattled president Sepp Blatter, to the 2010 election in Trinidad and Tobago. …
“I will no longer keep secrets for them who actively seek to destroy the country,” said Warner, who was held in jail overnight last week, but was later released on bail.
The Clinton Foundation did business with FIFA too, as Helderman notes, but apparently not on the same level as the Qataris. FIFA provided membership fees to the Clinton Global Initiative amounting to $50,000, but they were more used to selling influence rather than buying it. In that sense, FIFA and the Clintons were more like competitors than colleagues.
Still, this could create more problems for the Clintons. They tried and failed to get the 2022 World Cup into the US, and they were notably silent about the corruption that caused them to lose the bid. One has to wonder whether Bill Clinton was a mere naïf on the FIFA stage, or whether he and the US team just got outbid in the trenches.