Asian football chief backs Qatar to clear doubts

Asia’s football chief Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa said Monday he is convinced Qatar would try to clear the air over fresh claims it paid millions in bribes to secure the 2022 World Cup.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said in a statement its president is still “looking forward to seeing a successful FIFA World Cup in Qatar”.

“The AFC President is convinced that the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy will do their utmost to clear the doubts,” it said.

“Hosting the FIFA World Cup in Asia, especially in the Middle East, means a lot to the continent,” it quoted the Bahraini as saying.

Qatar’s World Cup organisers vehemently denied any wrongdoing after Britain’s Sunday Times alleged a top official paid more than $5 million to secure support in the bidding process.

The newspaper said it had obtained millions of emails, documents and bank transfers relating to alleged payments made by Mohamed bin Hammam, a former top football official from Qatar.

The new allegations have put fresh pressure on FIFA to re-run the vote for the 2022 World Cup hosting rights.

Australian football authorities said Monday they may relaunch their bid to host the event should Qatar be stripped of the tournament.

The small Gulf state won the 2010 vote when bin Hammam was still AFC president and a member of the executive committee of FIFA, the sport’s global governing body.

Bin Hammam, who launched an abortive challenge against incumbent FIFA president Sepp Blatter, resigned from his FIFA and AFC posts in 2012, shortly before he was banned for life from football administration by FIFA’s ethics committee.

FIFA is investigating the 2010 vote that awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and the 2018 tournament to Russia, following previous corruption accusations.

The new allegations come just days ahead of FIFA’s annual congress, to be held in Sao Paulo between June 9 and 12, at which Blatter is set to announce his candidacy for a fifth four-year term.

The decision to give the World Cup to Qatar, a nation with little football history, provoked widespread condemnation because it will be held in the emirate’s summer.

Blatter said last month it had been a mistake to choose Qatar because of the summer heat.


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