MANILA (AFP) – Qatar dismissed new allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup as they basked in strong support from FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and Asian football officials.
Qatar 2022 communications chief Nasser Al Khater said “reader fatigue” was setting in after a British newspaper printed fresh claims of vote-buying by 2018 hosts Russia and the wealthy Gulf state.
He said it was telling that the Sunday Times sought parliamentary privilege, a defence against libel, before publishing unproven claims it says were secretly compiled by Britain’s bid team for the 2018 event.
“What I understand is that they went to parliament before publishing, to get parliamentary privilege,” Al Khater said at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards in Manila late on Sunday.
“I guess that tells you the story… there’s a story that came up but they went to the select committee in parliament, so already that tells me that they’re looking for some protection.”
Asia’s second World Cup enjoys staunch backing from regional officials, with Blatter earning loud applause when he told the gala dinner: “The World Cup 2022 will be played in Qatar.”
Controversy again engulfed Asia’s second World Cup when investigator Michael Garcia disowned the findings of his report into the bidding process, as presented by FIFA.