Anti-Qatar World Cup campaign blasted as `racist`

Paris: Asia`s top Olympic official on Thursday blasted accusations of corruption against Qatar`s 2022 World Cup campaign as being "racist" attacks on Arabs.

Pressure for action over the allegations grew however as UEFA president Michel Platini said a new vote on the 2022 host should be called if corruption was proved.

Britain`s Sunday Times set off a new controversy this week when it alleged that former Qatari football chief Mohamed bin Hammam paid more than $5 million to win support for Qatar`s bid.

Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia and the Association of National Olympic Committees, strongly defended Qatar though.

The attacks were "racist actions towards Qatar and Arabs, revealing the malice of those parties in a way that has no justification," the International Sporting Press Association quoted the Kuwaiti sheikh as saying.

"We will confront all such acts of racism and we will stand with Qatar so that no-one removes its right to organise the 2022 World Cup in Doha," he added.

"I stand by my brothers in Qatar," the sheikh declared.

A FIFA investigator, US lawyer Michael Garcia, met Qatari World Cup committee officials in Oman this week, a source close to the meetings said.

The first talks were yesterday and were to wrap up on today, the source told AFP.

Garcia is looking into whether there was corruption in the December 2010 FIFA executive vote that awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

He is to hand his report to a FIFA ethics committee on June 9, the day before the world body starts its annual congress in Sao Paulo.

UEFA President and FIFA executive member Michel Platini, who voted for Qatar in 2010, told L`Equipe newspaper that if the corruption allegations were proven there should be a re-vote.

"If there is proof of corruption, it will take a new vote and sanctions," Platini was quoted as saying.
Platini again rejected claims by English newspaper the Daily Telegraph this week that he held "a secret meeting" with Hammam.

He admitted attending a "private lunch" with Nicolas Sarkozy when he was France`s president, and a group of high-ranking Qataris.

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