Qatar World Cup – If It Were a Procurement Process, We Would Start Again

The Qatar World Cup story just keeps getting more and more outrageous. Now, FIFA, the world's governing body for football, has decided that it will be played in November and December 2022, causing huge disruption to European national football leagues and Christmas shopping plans. Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, has decreed it will finish by December 18th, so football in the European leagues will have to stop around the end of October presumably.

But this is just the latest element of the Qatar World Cup fiasco. (And today we won’t even get into the allegations of bad treatment for workers building the stadia, stories that are still being reported).

If you look the decision to award the event to Qater, and consider it from a procurement point of view, what happened is that a "supplier" won a bid through a competitive process (of sorts). But then post contract award, it became clear that a major and fundamental part of the requirement, (the timing of the event) could not be feasibly delivered by the winning supplier.

As a parallel: if you engaged an IT firm who said they could do something on a certain date, then once they won the contract they announced it would be impossible for them to achieve that, you wouldn't just say "OK, you can do it whenever you want to do it." You would first of all kick them around the room three times, then re-run the competition, wouldn’t you? But no, FIFA just say OK, we’ll change the dates by six months or so.

But then, the way the World Cup is awarded is pretty much an exemplar of how to run a procurement process that encourages incompetence and corruption.

The process is designed so that the technical evaluation of the bids - what we would see as the core part of a tender evaluation - is detailed but carries no real weight in terms of the actual decision making. Rather, the decision making authority is given to to a bunch of individuals, accountable to no-one really, and who do not have to explain their decisions. It is hard to see how anyone could come up with a process more guaranteed to be susceptible to bribery and corruption.

Instead, it could be run through a proper procurement process in line with public procurement best practice. But why would the members of FIFA want to do that and lose their personal patronage and power? A World Cup in Qatar was always a crazy idea, and it is not so much the November / December scheduling that is reprehensible, but the entire process. Frankly, it stinks.

I love football, played it fairly seriously for 25 years, supported Sunderland for 50 years. But really, I feel like an addict who knows he should give it up, given what the game has now become with the ridiculous salaries, corruption, FIFA, dodgy club owners and so on. Perhaps I’ll take up baking instead.

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Voices (5)

  1. Nick @ Market Dojo:

    Dan, I think you’re spot on. That said, what constitutes an ‘injury’ is not crystal clear and certain managers (Alex Ferguson in the past) practically bound their players to putting club before country. I would hope that players would have too much pride in representing their nation than worrying about upsetting their club.

  2. Dan:

    I believe that clubs cannot stop their players being called up for international duty unless they are injured.

  3. Nick @ Market Dojo:

    Appalling isn’t it. Since premier league clubs have more sway on their players than their country, I wonder how this will pan out with players being given the right to represent their nation, as such a situation as this, with a major international competition taking place mid-way through the season, may not be incorporated into their contract.

    Don’t get too good at the baking, as I’m not sure the decision making panel on Great British Bake-Off is less authoritarian!

  4. Dave Coley:

    Peter, you have the look of Sir Stan about you and I hear that Gus has a vacancy for a winger, so how about a last go at it ?

    1. Peter Smith:

      When you say the “look of Sir Stan”, assuming you mean Matthews, are you suggesting I am bandy-legged, short and balding with a dodgy comb-over? Actually, now you come to mention it…
      Seriously though, and back to the World Cup, you do wonder whether a few break away countries might start an alternative – how to cope with a “monopoly supplier” situation would be the parallel?

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