Two former chairmen of the FA have criticised the “in some senses corrupt” decision by Fifa to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, writes Joseph Millis. 

Former FA Chairman David Bernstein in the directors box during a Premier League match at White Hart Lane

Former FA Chairman David Bernstein in the directors box during a Premier League match at White Hart Lane

However, they stressed that they did not expect the football governing body to understand the “politics and problem” of funding terror.

Lord Triesman and David Bernstein were speaking to Jewish News at Westminster Synagogue where they are helping Rabbi Thomas Salomon to promote the Czech Memorial Scrolls Trust.

Several hundred rescued scrolls are housed in the synagogue.

Former Labour minister and Spurs fan Lord Triesman, said it was a “faulty decision” [to award Russia the games in 2018 and Qatar four years later] and “is in some senses corrupt”. He added: “The whole thing needs to be reopened.”

Lord Triesman also said Fifa needed to be “embarrassed” into changing its decision by the European body Uefa taking a strong stance, or by the Swiss government “considering investigating bodies that appear to be corrupt and which operate on its soil”.

He went on: “A third way would be to pressure major Fifa sponsors, all of which have huge reputations, and ask them whether they want to be associated with this situation.”

The problem, noted Lord Triesman, was “there appears to be no level at which Fifa is embarrassed.


Lord Triesman (Source: Twitter)

It has make-believe processes but it is not likely to change. I don’t expect Fifa to understand the politics and problem of funding terror”.

Bernstein, the former Manchester City chairman and current chairman of the British Red Cross, was equally scathing.

“It was a misconceived decision to grant it to Qatar in the first place for a lot of good reasons,” he said.

“Not least is the fact it got the World Cup under false pretences – it said it would hold the tournament in the summer, but now it appears the climate will scupper that, so it will be moved to winter. That’s not what they bid for and not what Fifa agreed to.”

He added: “Then there’s the matter of political issues in the Middle East and given what’s happening there – and who knows what will happen between now and 2022?”

Both men have been active against racism on and off the pitch and both had a role in the two removals of Chelsea’s John Terry from the England captaincy and contributed to manager Roy Hodgson’s agreement to take the national squad to Auschwitz in 2012.

On Spurs fans and their rivals chanting “Yid” at matches, both Lord Triesman and Mr Bernstein said they would “prefer it didn’t happen”.

However, both accepted that the “context is very important – it’s who chants it and how it is chanted”.