The Ugly Game : The Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup, Hardback

The Ugly Game : The Qatari Plot to Buy the World Cup Hardback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


When FIFA awarded the tiny desert state of Qatar the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, the news was greeted with disbelief and allegations of corruption.

How had a country with almost no football infrastructure or tradition, a high terror risk and searing summer temperatures of 50C beaten more established countries with stronger bids?

The story behind the Qatari success soon developed into one of the greatest sporting scandals of our time. And when the Sunday TimesInsight team received a cache of hundreds of millions of documents from a whistleblower, the contents of the FIFA Files became a global sensation, unearthing the corruption that lay at the heart of the bidding process.

Now in this remarkable new book by the Sunday Timesjournalists at the centre of the investigation, Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert, comes the most comprehensive account yet of what happened and who was involved.

Above all, it explains why, despite all the evidence, FIFA under Sepp Blatter continues to support Qatar - even to the extent of publishing an edited and abbreviated report into the process that was immediately denounced by its original author. Longlisted for the William Hill prize, The Ugly Gameis undoubtedly the biggest sporting story of the year.


  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 480 pages, 8pp colour photos
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Sports governing bodies
  • ISBN: 9781471149344



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The Ugly Game – You Really Couldn’t Make It UpYou really could not make this up even if you wanted too, the plot is daft and people are bound to get court and prosecuted because bribery and corruption are illegal in any bidding process. Any company director or politician who splashed the cash around to buy votes would be up in court and out of office quicker than Usain Bolt at the Olympic game’s 100 metre final.If somebody had told me before the announcement that the 2022 World Cup would be played in a country that has no history of football at any level, that the weather in summer is often around fifty degrees in the shade! FIFA’s own technical committee advised against playing football there as it would be too hot for the players and fans. Yet somehow Sepp Blatter announced that Qatar had won the right to host the games, against their own advice, even though Blatter claimed not to have voted for it. Shocked and stunned was the world reaction, questions were asked, but FIFA were not listening.The award winning Sunday Times Insight team began an investigation in to how FIFA awarded the World Cup Finals to Qatar, and so over many Sundays there were plenty of claims of what went on behind the scenes. All the more they dug the more skeletons they found the more questions were asked the more people got angry and all FIFA said was nothing. The silence at times was deafening but the Ugly Game by Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert has added even more fuel to the fire. This book expands on the claims made in the Sunday Times along with more claims.The Ugly Game vocalises the stench of corruption that surrounds FIFA and the Qatari bid with the aid of a whistle blower who made available from within FIFA documents and emails and much more leaked information. This information concerned how a small country with no football infrastructure to its name, with plenty of oil money, leadership of the Asian Football Association, a seat on the FIFA executive went about lobbying for votes.For a lot of the Sunday Times’ Insight Team often have to operate a sting to gain further information to aid their investigations, but none of that here. Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert had to sift through mountains of information, and had to play the role of detective for the reader. They even offered their findings to the Corruption Investigation by Michael Garcia which went unheeded. As an aside Garcia later disowned the final report in to FIFA Corruption as incorrect.From this book we learn further about the work of Mohammed bin Hammam in the Qatari bid even though he was later disowned by the Royal Family. Without him though the Qatari bid would not have got off the ground, as a networker and lobbyist he was supreme. He used every trick in the book that would make politicians and lobbyists blush or more likely face charges of a very serious nature. At times I went all McEnroe when I learnt the sort of largesse that went on especially with the African delegation amongst others. While Bin Hammam has now been sent in to football exile, even though encouraged by Sepp Blatter at times, we are reminded of the high price that will be paid by others for the 2022 World Cup. It is the foreign workers, many of whom have had their passports removed by Qatari developers, die in their hundreds who are paying the real, but unseen, price for the Qatar World Cup. Like Nero, Blatter goes on, as will the Qatar World Cup, and while he fiddles the beautiful game is turning ugly.

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