Qatar Airways allegedly offered a “very generous” sponsorship deal to the Football Association, the governing body of English soccer, in exchange for the then chairman’s silence over criticism of the controversial decision to award the small but wealthy Persian Gulf country the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Greg Dyke, who led the FA between 2013 and 2016, claims Qatar Airways made what he describes as a “very generous” sponsorship bid for the FA Cup tournament seemingly out of the blue in late 2013.
Dyke, who is also a former director general of the BBC, said Qatar Airways made the offer on the condition that he “shut up” about allegations of corruption surrounding Qatar’s bid to host the FIFA World Cup.
A vocal critic of Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup for years, Dyke reaffirmed his stance only last year, describing FIFA’s ruling as the “most ridiculous decision ever made to put it in Qatar”.
“It was so crooked; no one in their right mind would have chosen it,” Dyke said in 2021, undeterred by offers of sponsorship from the state-owned flag carrier.
On Tuesday, Dyke told ITV News: “We were looking for a new sponsor for the FA Cup, and suddenly Qatar Airlines offered to be the sponsor with a very generous offer. But the condition was I ‘shut up’ about Qatar.”
“To be fair to the executive of the FA, I told them this story, and they all said ‘tell them where to get off,” he continued.
Qatar Airways denies the allegation and instead claims Dyke approached the airline in search of a new sponsor. A spokesperson for the Doha-based carrier says the opportunity was “never seriously pursued by the airline due to its other sponsorship commitments.”
“We thanked the FA for considering Qatar Airways and wished them well for the future,” the statement continued.
Alongside corruption allegations, Qatar’s World Cup has been marred in a series of controversies, including human rights abuses, the death of hundreds of migrant workers and LGBTQ+ rights in the conservative Arab country.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.