Qatar 2022 World Cup chiefs have fired a fresh round of defence against reports of corruption, saying they are a deliberate bid to undermine a FIFA inquiry into their bid.
A statement released by Qatar’s Supreme Committee for 2022 said at the weekend that the “leaks” were orchestrated, AFP reported.
“The timing of the release of these allegations is no accident,” said the statement, highlighting that the reports coincided with meetings between Qatar officials and FIFA investigation chief Michael Garcia.
“It should be clear that these leaks are not an attempt to shine light on the 2018/2022 bidding process. They are, instead, a flagrant attempt to prejudice an ongoing independent investigation.”
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper has alleged that former Qatari football boss Mohamed bin Hammam paid more than $5m to gain support for the Gulf state ahead of the 2010 vote to award the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar has strongly denied the allegations. The new statement called the reports “baseless and riddled with innuendo designed to tarnish the reputation of Qatar’s 2022 Bid Committee”.
The corruption allegations have left FIFA, the world governing body, in turmoil, with European football chiefs calling on the organisation’s president Sepp Blatter to leave office when his term ends next year.
Blatter has called the corruption allegations racism.
In the last week, sponsors Adidas, Sony and Visa have called on FIFA to deal thoroughly with allegations of bribery to secure the 2022 World Cup for Qatar. The Gulf state has denied any wrongdoing.
Qatar beat bids from Australia, Japan, the United States and South Korea for the right to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
However, more than half (57 percent) of young Arabs believe Qatar was the right choice to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup while two thirds (65 percent) think the tournament will encourage the development of football across the Arab world, according to the findings of the 6th Annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey.
Support for a Qatar World Cup is strongest in the GCC countries with 61 percent saying the Gulf state was the right choice to host the tournament compared to 54 percent in the non-GCC Arab countries, the survey said.
Over a quarter (26 percent) of youth in non-GCC countries and 25 percent in the Gulf states “don’t know” if Qatar was the right choice while 14 percent and 20 per cent in GCC and non-GCC countries, respectively, believe it was the wrong choice.
Qatar's bid has attracted controversy from the outset because of the extreme summer heat during the months when the Cup is played and the tiny country's lack of domestic soccer tradition.