The Death of ICSS’s Credibility

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Its over. It cannot possibly stagger on with any belief.

The credibility of that awful walking, talking oxymoron of the Qatari-funded agency for ‘sports integrity’ – the International Center for Sports Security (ICSS) is dead.

Yesterday, in an extraordinary Football Leaks investigation the credibility of the ICSS was not just killed. They blew it up, collected the ashes, burnt them and scattered them to the winds… (That’s enough far-fetched poetic analogies! Ed).

The organization was set up to ‘protect sports integrity’ a few months after Qatar controversially won the rights to host the World Cup in 2022. All this is surprising even for a critic like me who has been skeptical of the organization from its inception. For what makes the Football Leaks story so strong is that it is based on inside documents from the organization itself.

Here are the headlines:

1. ICSS contracted its staff to spy on a rival Sheikh from Kuwait by ‘infiltrating’ his computer when he staying at a hotel for an international sports conference.

(Hands up now any sports official who wants to share a hotel or go to a conference with ICSS people?).

2. ICSS detected a possible fixed-match by the Qatari national team and while the investigators correctly passed the warning to senior management nothing was done about it.

(There goes the ICSS credibility, never high, on match-fixing).

3. ICSS hired a former Interpol executive.  While still with Interpol he spoke to FBI and Department of Justice officials on their investigation into FIFA executives. He alerted ICSS to the important knowledge that there would be more arrests of high-ranking FIFA people.

(Any police with active investigations want to trust ICSS or Interpol now?)

4. ICSS executives wrote disparaging remarks about their colleagues at the Council of Europe and UNESCO saying, “They extort Qatari money and they think we are idiots.”

(Any government official still want to collaborate with them?).

5. The ICSS staff privately wrote that the Qatari-funded center for youth football may be engaged in ‘human trafficking’. However, in public nothing was said.

(How about all those sessions on ‘human trafficking’ led by the ICSS now?)

For its part – the ICSS has issued a statement.  Saying – among other things:

“The ICSS Sport Integrity Unit (SIU) consists of highly respected law- enforcement experts who operate across the globe. The ICSS SIU has been highly effective in successfully exposing real corruption within international sport.  This inaccurate information and clearly manipulated data seems to have been cherry picked and used out of context for what maybe, unfortunately; part of a preconceived and false narrative about the ICSS and driven by an unknown agenda.”

There is far, far more in the original articles by both Mediapart and Der Spiegel. I put a few sections below. The complete originals are well-worth reading. They are at:

https://www.mediapart.fr/en/journal/international/251118/how-qatar-used-anti-corruption-organisation-spy-its-rivals

https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/251118/le-qatar-utilise-une-ong-pour-espionner-ses-rivaux

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The Death of ICSS’s Credibility

by Declan Hill time to read: 2 min
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