This story has been updated.
Former President Bill Clinton served as the honorary chairman of the U.S. committee that worked unsuccessfully to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. The surprise winner that year was Qatar--and it turns out that the Qatari committee now planning the massive event has been a major donor to Clinton's charitable foundation.
The soccer-related donations to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation came into focus Wednesday as U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch alleged deep rooted corruption at FIFA, the world's soccer governing organization. Also Wednesday, the Swiss announced a criminal investigation into Qatar's 2022 bid. The Clinton Foundation has no involvement with the investigations.
The foundation's donor records, posted on its Web site, show that FIFA, or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, has donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to the Clinton foundation. The Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, which was formed in 2011 to build stadiums and other infrastructure after Qatar was named the 2022 host, has given between $250,000 and $500,000 to the foundation.
The foundation discloses donors and the amount they have given the foundation over time, expressed in ranges; the organization does not provide dates of donations on its Web site. But a foundation official said FIFA paid a membership fee to take part in the annual Clinton Global Initiative event in 2009 and 2010. The New York event brings together world leaders, businesses and NGOs. At the event, private groups making public commitments to undertake specific charitable activities, which are then tracked by the Clinton Foundation. FIFA, for instance, announced it would build 20 community centers in Africa in conjunction with the South African World Cup in 2010.
As for Qatar 2022, a foundation official said the organization was a CGI sponsor in 2013. Sponsorships cost $250,000. The host committee also partnered with the Qatar National Food Security Programme, committing to use technology being developed for soccer stadiums at the World Cup to improve food security. (The Qatar National Food Security Programme has also donated at least $25,000 to the foundation.)
U.S. officials Wednesday unsealed indictments against 14 top officials involved with soccer, accusing the group of bribery, money laundering and fraud.
While the foundation has no involvement with the investigations, it's a reminder that the global philanthropy has accepted donations from many of the world's richest and most powerful players. Its donor list runs to 200,000 names, and includes foreign governments, Wall Street and foreign financial institutions, energy conglomerates and others. The government of Qatar, for instance, which aggressively sought the World Cup, has given the foundation between $1 million and $5 million.
The sheer breadth and power of the foundation donor base ensures that virtually any financial or legal scandal that touches major world institutions in coming years has a good chance of involving a foundation contributor, a potentially continuing headache for Hillary Rodham Clinton as she runs for president.
Bill Clinton traveled to Zurich in 2010 with a gaggle of celebrities pushing for the U.S. to win the right to host the 2022 tournament but FIFA chose Qatar instead. At a conference the next day hosted by The Economist, Clinton attributed the decision to FIFA's desire to "make soccer a world sport."
“They wanted to say, here's a good non-terrorist, non-bigoted way of embracing -- no really, I'm not trivializing this -- a way to embrace the modernization attempt of the Middle East," he said.