German Fifa exec: ‘Qatar won’t host World Cup’

Germany's top Fifa official said on Monday Qatar will not host the 2022 World Cup as planned, due to climate conditions. Qatar's successful bid to host the tournament has been marred by corruption and human rights concerns.

German Fifa exec: 'Qatar won't host World Cup'
Theo Zwanziger and one of the planned stadiums in Qatar. Photo: DPA

Theo Zwanziger said that the Gulf state would lose the tournament as the risks to the players' and spectators' health would be too great in the tiny desert state's summer heat.

"Personally, I think that the 2022 World Cup will not be in Qatar in the end," the former president of the German Football Association (DFB) told Sport Bild Plus.

The average summer temperature in Doha is around 38C and can often approach 47C.

“Doctors say, and I had insisted on this point in the protocol, that they cannot guarantee a World Cup can be held in summer in these conditions," he said.

Qatar has said that games can be played thanks to cooling technologies being developed for stadiums, but Zwanziger says that's not enough.

"The World Cup involves not only stadiums. There are fans coming from the four corners of the world who will be concerned by the heat,” he added.

"The first incident putting a life in danger will be subject to an investigation. Nobody at the Fifa executive committee wants to be responsible for that," Zwanziger said.

A Fifa spokesman told AFP that "As Mr Zwanziger himself says, it's his personal opinion."

Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary-general of the Qatar 2022 organizing committee told Die Welt newspaper that he was "sure that the 2022 World cup would take place in Qatar."

He added: "There's no basis to lose the World Cup."

The weather was just one of many things to create outcry from football fans when Qatar was awarded hosting duties in 2010.

 One of the planned Qatari stadiums. Photo: DPA

Secret corruption findings

A corruption investigation into the awarding of the bids of the 2018 games to Russia and the 2022 games to Qatar, both announced in 2010, will be ruled on in November, announced the German judge hired by Fifa to rule on the report.

But the report will remain secret.

Michael Garcia, the US lawyer who spent the last two years on the investigation into Fifa for Fifa, turned in his 430-page report last week.

The judge, who will rule on the report, Hans-Joachim Eckert, said at an ethics in sports conference on Friday that he hoped to deliver verdicts resulting from the report in November.

But Eckert also said that the report would not be publicly released.

"You cannot expect for anything to be disclosed from this report to the public," he said. "There is an obligation for privacy and we will comply with this."

Eckert will be able to pose sanctions against Fifa executive committee members who voted in the December 2010 hosting decision. His power over bidding candidates is unclear.

It had previously been reported that the Qatari Fifa official, Mohammed Bin Hamman paid former Fifa vice president Jack Warner €1.54 million prior to the vote. Both have denied this.

The son of Fifa official and Uefa president Michel Platini was also offered a job at a Qatar sports company after Qatar won the bid.

According to the Independent, Garcia's investigation has cost Fifa €7.6 million.

A serfdom of foreign workers

Qatar's use of migrant workers has also brought the football governing body's choice of host under fire.

An estimated 1.7 million migrant workers are in the country, making up 88 percent of the population. A report by the Guardian last year exposed the local Kafala system to be no better than serfdom, where workers' rights are tied to their employer.

The report found that Nepalese workers brought into the country are dying at a rate of almost one a day.

Many also reported not being paid for months at a time or being paid lower wages than promised, as well as being denied water while working in the desert conditions.

Employers often confiscated passports and denied the migrants their working papers, reducing them to the status of undocumented and illegal workers. 

A German filmmaker was arrested last year while trying to document the reported conditions.

.An apartment housing Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar. Photo: DPA

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Last week, the Fifa ethics committee told the organization's executives that they had until October 24th to return a €25,000 watch gifted to them by the Brazilian national football organisation, the CBF.

Fifa rules state that all executives must report gifts of value.

Zwanziger claimed he only realized he was in possession of the watch after being questioned by the press about it.

Current DFB president, and Zwanziger's successor, Wolfgang Niersbach had already sent the watch back to Brazil by courier, according to a report by Der Spiegel

CFB should be punished for the gaffe, said Zwanziger.

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Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow

German police arrested a Russian scientist working at an unidentified university, accusing him of spying for Moscow, prosecutors said on Monday, in a case that risks further inflaming bilateral tensions.

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow
Vladimir Putin. Photo: dpa/AP | Patrick Semansky

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that the suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., had been taken into custody on Friday on suspicion of “working for a Russian secret service since early October 2020 at the latest”.

Ilnur N. was employed until the time of his arrest as a research assistant for a natural sciences and technology department at the unnamed German university.

German investigators believe he met at least three times with a member of Russian intelligence between October 2020 and this month. On two occasions he allegedly “passed on information from the university’s domain”.

He is suspected of accepting cash in exchange for his services.

German authorities searched his home and workplace in the course of the arrest.

The suspect appeared before a judge on Saturday who remanded him in custody.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Neither the German nor the Russian government made any immediate comment on the case.

However Moscow is at loggerheads with a number of Western capitals after a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders and a series of espionage scandals that have resulted in diplomatic expulsions.

Italy this month said it had created a national cybersecurity agency following warnings by Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Europe needed to
protect itself from Russian “interference”. 

The move came after an Italian navy captain was caught red-handed by police while selling confidential military documents leaked from his computer to a Russian embassy official.


The leaders of nine eastern European nations last month condemned what they termed Russian “aggressive acts” citing operations in Ukraine and “sabotage” allegedly targeted at the Czech Republic.

Several central and eastern European countries have expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague but Russia has branded accusations of its involvement as “absurd” and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions.

The latest espionage case also comes at a time of highly strained relations between Russia and Germany on a number of fronts including the ongoing detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who received treatment in Berlin after a near-fatal poisoning.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has moreover worked to maintain a sanctions regime over Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the scene of ongoing fighting between pro-Russia separatists and local forces.

And Germany has repeatedly accused Russia of cyberattacks on its soil.

The most high-profile incident blamed on Russian hackers to date was a cyberattack in 2015 that completely paralysed the computer network of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, forcing the entire institution offline for days while it was fixed.

German prosecutors in February filed espionage charges against a German man suspected of having passed the floor plans of parliament to Russian secret services in 2017.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last week said Germany was expecting to be the target of Russian disinformation in the run-up to its general election in September, calling it “completely unacceptable”.

Russia denies being behind such activities.

Despite international criticism, Berlin has forged ahead with plans to finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany.