Clear bias against Qatar, says its World Cup committee chief
There has been a "clear bias" against Qatar in the wake of Mr Michael Garcia’s Fifa report into the bidding process for the next two World Cups, the Gulf state’s 2022 Committee chief Hassan Al Thawadi said on Friday.
Fifa’s ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert issued a 42-page summary of Mr Garcia’s report in November, which identified cases of "inappropriate conduct" in a number of the bids.
But he said there was not enough evidence to justify reopening the process.
Mr Garcia immediately appealed against Mr Eckert’s statement, saying it contained misrepresentations.
He then resigned in protest, prompting speculation that evidence of wrongdoing may have been suppressed or diluted.
'Unfounded accusations and allegations'
Qatar has been fending off allegations of corruption ever since it was awarded the 2022 tournament.
"I can’t say if there is a prejudice against Qatar but what I can say is there is a clear bias," Mr Al Thawadi, the Secretary General of the World Cup 2022 Committee told Al Jazeera.
"All the reporting on Michael Garcia, the description was, the focus was on us, on Qatar, and that was inaccurate.
He said: "The simple fact was the investigation was on all bidding nations, 2018 along with 2022.
"We were very open and accepted an investigator coming from another nation that was a competitor to us for 2022."
He also said:
"We never raised an issue because we were confident of our position, we embraced the process because it was an end to unfounded accusations and allegations.
"And yet nevertheless, somehow, the focus still seems to be on us and I think that, if nothing else, clearly shows there is a bias."
File photo of the head of Qatar's World Cup organising committee Hassan Al Thawadi. Photo: AFP
The timing of the 2022 World Cup has been a contentious issue since the tournament was awarded to Qatar in 2010.
During the traditional hosting dates of June and July, the intense summer heat in the Gulf can soar as high as 50 degree Celsius.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has ruled out the summer option, even though Qatar was awarded the tournament on the understanding that new technology would be used to cool the stadiums to an ideal temperature for football.
Mr Al Thawadi said Qatar’s plans are proceeding on the basis that it will be held in the summer, although he said they could stage the event at any time.
'Summer World Cup is feasible'
"Since the first days of the bid we’ve always said a summer World Cup is feasible in Qatar, but whatever the football community decides we will fulfil it," he said.
"If the decision is to change it to the winter, our commitment to the cooling technology and the legacy it leaves is still strong.
"Currently our plans are moving forward with the assumption the World Cup will be taking place in the summer.
"Once the decision is made when the World Cup will be held, we will be able to change and tinker with our plans to ensure we fulfil our requirements."