Qatar’s successful bid for the Cup is one of the scandals of the age, tarred by serious allegations of bribery as well as the country’s dismal record of abusing foreign workers. The Clinton Foundation’s website says it will use the Qatari money to develop “sustainable infrastructure at the 2022 FIFA World Cup to improve food security in Qatar.” Sure. Think of the Qatari money as a way of trying to scrub itself clean with that special Clinton shampoo.
The Qatar story is suggestive of the way in which both FIFA and the Clinton Foundation work. Both organizations serve as portals through which shadowy people find their way, for a given price, into the light: the light of social respectability, the best parties, the right connections. It works in the other direction, too. How better to get lucrative uranium mining concessions in Kazakhstan or roadwork contracts in Haiti than by going through the Clinton Foundation? How better to make a tidy fortune in media and marketing rights than by greasing the right palms at FIFA—assuming, that is, that the Justice Department’s indictment is to be believed?
Also, how better to avoid close scrutiny than by doing—or purporting to do—good works in scrubby jurisdictions where laws can be usefully vague and officials are frequently pliable?