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Campbell, Collymore expose anti-Qatar 2022 campaign

Qatar has fought several battles since the gulf state hatched the idea of hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The battles multiplied and got even messier after the bid was announced successful by the world football governing body, FIFA in 2010, that Qatar would host the 2022 World Cup.

Lusail Stadium in Qatar
File: Lusail Stadium in Qatar

Several attempts to discredit the Qatar World Cup by focusing on corruption allegations surrounding its bid, and the issue of the poor treatment of migrant workers there, appeared to be organised and well-funded. But each of the attacks had been met with very strong rebuttal. The Qatari government through the Local Organising Committee which is the Supreme Committee for Legacy has always thrown its doors open to international delegates for inspection and fact-finding missions. The country has always come out clean on each occasion.

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The 2022 World Cup has become the battleground for the political conflict between Qatar and its opponents, led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with both sides trying to win the publicity war.

Thursday, a UK based website Times UK, published that two former England internationals were approached to take on paid roles as critics of the Qatar 2022 World Cup as part of a propaganda war that is being waged between the tournament’s host nation and rival Gulf states.

On the other side, officials in the UAE believe that the Qatari secret service is behind recent damaging leaks of documents relating to Manchester City, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi ruling family.

The two former internationals, Sol Campbell and Stan Collymore have confirmed that they were offered fees to take part in a conference in London and were told by organisers that it would be critical of Qatar’s bidding for and hosting of the tournament.

According to the report Campbell and Collymore  were approached by an aide to  a London-based Qatari who is a leading political opponent of Qatar’s royal family and claims to have been imprisoned and tortured before reaching England.

Sol Campbell and Stan Collymore: Photo from The Times

The duo was promised lucrative football deals in the UAE if they were interested in taking part in the anti-Qatar conference in London.

The Time reports that Campbell, now the manager of the League Two side Macclesfield Town, was even told that a “good football deal in the UAE” could be brokered for him if he was interested in joining the event.

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The former Arsenal defender told The Times that he rejected the offers as he did not feel comfortable with them.

“It didn’t really sit well for me,” he said. “They contacted me saying they wanted to have a chat but the timing for me wasn’t right. They talked about a fee for going along and talking but I felt a bit uncomfortable and decided I just want to concentrate on football, so I’m well out of it.”

Campbell said he had not known who was ultimately behind the offers, adding: “I think it was some kind of wealthy benefactor.”

The conference went ahead in May last year without either former England international involved, although the former Manchester United player Louis Saha was in attendance.

The event was called the Foundation for Sports Integrity (FFSI) conference. According to reporters at the Play The Game Foundation a company called Akta Group Ltd helped to organise the conference and speakers were paid between £1,000 and £10,000. At the time, the company was controlled by Tatiana Gisca.”

Vanguard

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