The head of Qatar’s World Cup organising committee has blasted claims the country bought the World Cup in an interview with UK-based radio station TalkSport.
Responding to allegations that money changed hands during and after the bid process, Hassan Al Thawadi told the station that: “We did not buy the World Cup. It’s as simple as that.”
“I go back to a lot of people that look at us and say it’s shocking that we won and I go back to the simple thing – why we won? It’s because we worked hard, harder than a lot of people,” he said.
“We put heart and soul into this [bid] and that’s what frustrates me. When we first started people thought it was a no-go. A lot of people sat down and said, ‘you’re daft, you’re not going to win it’.
“When we first started we said, ‘OK, we want to host the World Cup, what’s stopping us’?”
Al Thawadi, who is secretary general for the World Cup Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, added: “Number one, country size, because we’re a small nation. OK, fair enough, but we looked back and said is that such a bad thing? When you look at South Africa, which was a huge success, when you look at Brazil and Russia, you’re looking at nations where travel is an issue.
“It takes a lot of effort and puts stress on people, whether it’s football players who, after a very stressful season, are expected to play at the highest level, but at the same time looking at fans.
“Can they move from one place to another, looking for accommodation, looking for flights? What we’re saying is it’s a compact World Cup. You’re based in one place, in one accommodation, you get to explore, you get to watch more than one game a day.
“The location of Qatar being in the centre [of the world] means it’s easy access. You’ve got a lot of airlines that congregate in this point of the world. It makes it a lot easier for a lot of people to arrive here.”
Last month, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that a company under the control of Mohamed Bin Hammam, the ex-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and a former member of FIFA's executive committee, paid $1.2m to Jack Warner, the former president of North American soccer's governing body CONCACAF and a member of the FIFA committee which chose the 2022 World Cup hosts.
One of Warner's companies requested that payment in December 2010, the Telegraph said, two weeks after a FIFA vote selected Qatar to stage the 2022 tournament ahead of rival bidders the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
The Telegraph also alleged that $750,000 was paid to Warner's sons, citing documents it says indicate the various payments to Warner family members were to "offset legal and other expenses" and "professional services provided over the period 2005-2010".
It was reported in March 2013 that an FBI probe into corruption in international soccer had recruited Warner's son Daryan as a co-operating witness.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter previously admitted the governing body had made a "bad mistake" over the bid processes for choosing the 2018 and 2022 World Cup venues, which were held simultaneously and led to the suspension of two Executive Committee members who attempted to sell their votes for cash.
Qatari Bin Hammam, the ex-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and a former member of FIFA's executive committee, challenged Blatter's re-election as president, but days before the 2011 vote Bin Hammam was accused of trying to bribe Caribbean officials to vote for him in a plot orchestrated by Warner.
Bin Hammam and Warner both denied wrongdoing, but Warner subsequently quit his FIFA and CONCACAF positions and Bin Hammam was banned for life from all FIFA and soccer activities.