Qatar World Cup bid organizers say they have "nothing to hide"
By Mike Collett-White
SAO PAULO (Reuters) - The organizers of Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup have denied allegations published by Britain's Sunday Times newspaper that a senior Qatari soccer official made payments in order to win support for the bid.
In a robust defense on Saturday of its campaign to host the world's biggest sporting event, Qatar 2022 criticised the allegations of corruption that have overshadowed the buildup to the Brazilian tournament, which began on Thursday.
"These allegations are baseless and riddled with innuendo designed to tarnish the reputation of Qatar's 2022 Bid Committee," organizers said.
They added that the allegations appeared to be deliberately timed to coincide with an investigation by FIFA, world soccer's governing body, into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Russia won the right to host the 2018 tournament.
Michael Garcia, the U.S. lawyer leading the probe, said in Brazil this week that he would consider any evidence brought before him before releasing a final report.
If corruption was proved, Qatar could be stripped of the Cup, or at least face a challenge to its position as host either through a re-vote or other processes.
"It should be clear that these leaks are not an attempt to shine light on the 2018/2022 bidding process," the statement said. "They are, instead, a flagrant attempt to prejudice an ongoing independent investigation.
"Certainly, if the source of these leaks were genuinely concerned with the evidence, they would have provided the leaked documents to Mr. Garcia, as he requested, instead of offering them to the media." Continued...