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FIFA: 'No foul play' in Qatar World Cup bid

The beautiful game will still have its glorious day in Qatar [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 June, 2017

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Qatar welcomes FIFA report vindicating it from allegations of wrongdoing over its World Cup bid as a Saudi think-tank campaigns for Doha to be stripped of hosting the tournament.
Qatar has welcomed a report published by FIFA vindicating it from allegations of wrongdoing over its 2022 World Cup bid.

It comes a day after a Saudi government-linked lobby in Washington said Doha should be stripped of its right to host the tournament for alleged "ethics violations".

The 430-page report by the world's football governing body made no suggestion that Qatar should lose the right to stage the tournament, after finding no evidence of any serious alleged irregularities linked to the bid.

FIFA chose to publish the full report on Tuesday after parts of the document was leaked to the German newspaper Bild.

The 430-page report had been under wraps since being completed by FIFA's then-ethics investigator Michael Garcia in November 2014.

"Although we question the timing of the leak, we welcome the publication of the Garcia report," Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) said in a statement.

"We believe that the extent of our cooperation with this investigation and the conclusions drawn represent a vindication of the integrity of our bid."

Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament in a single vote in Zurich in December 2010. Qatar will be the first country in the Arab world to host the tournament.

In the report, Garcia wrote that Qatar "may not have met the standards set out in the FIFA code of ethics or the bid rules" but added, in mitigation, that it only was due to its cooperation that the issues were uncovered.

Qatar said earlier this month a rift with fellow Gulf Arab states that includes economic sanctions on Doha has not affected its preparations to host the World Cup

Dragging sports into the row

Qatar said earlier this month a rift with fellow Gulf Arab states that includes economic sanctions on Doha has not affected its preparations to host the World Cup, and alternative sources for construction materials had been secured.

FIFA has said it is in "regular contact" with Qatar, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt severed ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting Iran and funding Islamist groups. Qatar denies the charges.

The FIFA report will be a boost to Qatar's credibility and efforts to host the prestigious event as its Gulf rivals have now dragged sports into their blockade of Doha.

Earlier this week, a Saudi think-tank said Qatar should be stripped of its right to the 2022 FIFA World Cup for "ethics violations" and "support for terrorism", allegations Doha vehemently denies.

In its report "Qatar hosting sports under the banner of terrorism", the Washington-based Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee's (SAPRAC) claimed it has "concrete proof" the Qatari government is funding terrorist organisations, but did not elaborate. Doha has dismissed the claims as baseless.

Funded by Saudi ​​​commentator Salman al-Ansari, SAPRAC is a Saudi government-linked lobbying group in Washington DC, akin to the Saudi version of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)

Qatari officials have in the past dismissed corruption allegations regarding its 2022 bid as politicised.

FIFA's report "like all previous investigations, has proven the integrity of Qatar's 2022 bid as we have stressed from the beginning," Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar's SC, wrote on Twitter.

"Our response to the naysayers will be to work harder on the ground; we recently inaugurated the first stadium of the tournament, and we will continue our preparations to host the first World Cup in the Arab world in 2022," he added.

With input from agencies

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