Guangzhou: Asia`s Olympic leader has backed Qatar`s 2022 World Cup bid despite allegations of vote collusion.
On the day an ethics commission for football`s governing body was due to start hearings in Zurich, Olympic Council of Asia president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah told The Associated Press today that he had full confidence in Qatar`s bid and its leaders.
"Yes. I still believe. I wish Qatar will have the games," Sheikh Ahmad, a Kuwaiti, told AP at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, southern China. "Still, Qatar will have the highest votes for the first round. I believe this."
FIFA`s ethics panel will hold a three-day hearing to determine whether two voters and at least two candidates should be barred from the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests for alleged corruption.
FIFA`s executive committee is due to select the hosts in a secret ballot on December 2. The poll could proceed without Reynald Temarii of Tahiti and Nigeria`s Amos Adamu, who are suspended from the 24-man executive committee and will argue for reinstatement before the ethics committee.
Britain`s Sunday Times newspaper last month published secretly filmed interviews with current and former FIFA officials that suggested voters could be bribed, and that bidders were flouting the rules by striking vote-trading pacts.
Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam also has defended his native Qatar against allegations of colluding with 2018 contender Spain-Portugal to trade votes, saying the newspaper claims are a major distortion.
FIFA has not identified which of the nine bidders it is investigating. The European contest for 2018 is among England, Russia and the joint bids of Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal.
The 2022 race involves the United States, Australia and three Asian bids from Qatar, Japan and South Korea.
Sheikh Ahmad said he was awaiting the resolution of the FIFA hearing but had little doubt Qatar`s bid team would be cleared.
"Until now there`s no evidence. Until now there`s no result," he said. "But in the end it will be a big competition between all the bidding countries for the World Cup."