x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Qatar 'insulted' by bribery allegations

Gulf state release four-page statement dismissing claims they paid two members of Fifa.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, chairman of the Qatar 2022 bid committee, reacts after Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, chairman of the Qatar 2022 bid committee, reacts after Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup.

SINGAPORE // Qatar, the World Cup 2022 hosts, has delivered another strongly worded statement denying "serious, unsubstantiated and false" allegations from English media that they had bribed Fifa executive committee members to win the hosting rights.

A British parliamentary inquiry this month into England's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup was told by member of parliament Damian Collins there was evidence from the Sunday Times newspaper that Issa Hayatou, of Cameroon, and Jacques Anouma, of the Ivory Coast, were paid by Qatar.

Qatar denied buying the African's duo's vote at the time and on Monday they released a four-page statement again dismissing the claims and saying they welcomed an inquiry into the bidding process.

"The (Qatar 2022) bid committee welcomes a thorough investigation into the allegations made against it," the statement said.

"However, such an investigation must surely only be carried out by a properly constituted body with due authority and independence where our side of the story can be heard.

"It is wholly inappropriate for any examination of the bid committee's affairs to be based on unsubstantiated hearsay and inaccurate journalism."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter, who stands for re-election against Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam on June 1, has not ruled out a re-run of the 2022 vote after the latest accusations from the Sunday Times.

The Gulf state of Qatar was a surprise winner of the December vote, beating strong bids from the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

But the decisions generated negative headlines after two members of Fifa's executive committee, the group who decided the hosts, were banned from voting after another Sunday Times investigation into the bidding process.

"The aim of the bid committee has always been to show that the Middle East is a realistic option for staging the Fifa World Cup and it has worked extremely hard to bring the tournament to the Middle East for the first time," the statement said.

"To have this achievement tarnished by completely unsubstantiated and false allegations and for those allegations to be propounded by the parliament of the United Kingdom is something we find distressing, insulting and incomprehensible."