FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Qatar was in no danger of being stripped of the 2022 World Cup as new questions arose Sunday over the awarding of hosting rights.
The world football chief reiterated his backing for the tournament after a British newspaper published fresh allegations about the bidding process.
“Ladies and gentlemen, believe me, if we see what has been said, what’s told around the world, it’s by those who are not involved exactly (in) what happens in football,” Blatter told delegates at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards in Manila.
“The World Cup 2022 will be played in Qatar,” he said to applause and a few whistles of support from the 400 delegates at the gala dinner in the Philippine capital.
Blatter was speaking after the Sunday Times said Britain’s bidding team for the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, had a secret database containing fresh allegations about the 2018 and 2022 hosting races.
The database includes unproven claims of vote-buying and trading linked to both Qatar and Russia’s successful bids, according to the newspaper.
The report comes after deep controversy over FIFA’s probe into the bidding process, when investigator Michael Garcia said the world body had misrepresented his findings.
On Sunday FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke insisted there was “no need” to publish the investigation in full, despite widespread calls to make it public.
“Legally speaking there is no need and no reason to publish,” Valcke said in brief comments to AFP at the function in Manila.
Blatter said the next step with the investigation would be considered at the FIFA executive committee’s meeting next month in Morocco.
“Listen, we are going now to the executive committee with all this matter on the 19th in Morocco and we will have a press conference after that,” he said as he left the awards ceremony.
Blatter, who is seeking re-election for a fifth term next year, has also faced calls to step down over FIFA’s handling of the report on Qatar.
The 78-year-old Swiss enjoys strong support from the AFC, including its leader Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who is also expected to be re-elected next year.
“He came in with his executive committee to bring Asian football to the right place,” Blatter said of Shaikh Salman. “It’s (Asia) a great part of football, it’s a great part of the world,” he added.