Qatar calls corruption reports deliberate attack

Doha: Qatar`s 2022 World Cup chiefs said Saturday that reports of corruption were a deliberate bid to undermine a FIFA inquiry into their bid.

A statement released by Qatar`s Supreme Committee for 2022 said the "leaks" were orchestrated, but did not say who by.

"The timing of the release of these allegations is no accident," said the statement, highlighting that the reports coincided with meetings between Qatar officials and FIFA investigation chief Michael Garcia.

"It should be clear that these leaks are not an attempt to shine light on the 2018/2022 bidding process. They are, instead, a flagrant attempt to prejudice an ongoing independent investigation," said the Qatar chiefs.

"While Qatar`s bid committee has honoured Mr Garcia`s request to let the process run its course, our right to a fair hearing has been compromised by certain parties trying to influence Mr Garcia`s investigation," said the statement.

Britain`s Sunday Times newspaper has alleged that former Qatari football boss Mohamed Bin Hammam paid more than $5 million (3.7m euros) to gain support for the emirate ahead of the 2010 vote to award the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar has strongly denied the allegations. The new statement called the reports "baseless and riddled with innuendo designed to tarnish the reputation of Qatar`s 2022 Bid Committee."

The corruption allegations have left FIFA, the world governing body, in turmoil, with European football chiefs calling on the organisation`s president Sepp Blatter to leave office when his term ends next year.

Blatter has called the corruption allegations racism.

Garcia, a former US federal prosecutor, is looking into the votes that gave the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and the 2018 tournament to Russia.

He met with Qatari organising committee officials in Oman just after the Sunday Times started publishing allegations.

Garcia is due to hand in his report to a FIFA adjudicatory chamber in July. Blatter said no decision on action will be taken before September or October.

The Qatar chiefs insisted they have "nothing to hide."

"We have fully co-operated in a completely open and transparent manner with FIFA`s independent ethics committee investigation," they added.

The bid committee acknowledged that they had a relationship with Bin Hamman during their campaign, but this was because he was a FIFA executive member and head of the Asian Football Confederation.

Bin Hammam resigned from his FIFA and AFC posts in 2012, shortly before he was banned for life from football administration by FIFA for "conflicts of interest". He had also been accused of offering bribes.

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