DUBAI (Reuters) - Gulf Arab countries have offered support for Qatar as host of the 2022 World Cup as criticism grows over the choice of the desert nation as the venue for world soccer’s top event.
Swiss and U.S. authorities are investigating both Russia and Qatar’s successful campaigns to stage the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.
FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, has said the countries may be stripped of the cup if evidence emerges of bribery in the bidding. Qatar denies any corruption was involved.
The decision to hold the tournament in Qatar was already controversial because of its extreme summer heat, which caused FIFA to move it to winter, forcing domestic leagues to change their schedules.
The deaths of migrant workers while building new stadiums has also drawn criticism from international human rights and labor organisations.
The United Arab Emirates state news agency WAM and the Qatari state news agency QNA said Gulf information ministers had called Qatar’s winning of the hosting rights “a success for all the states of the GCC”.
“The information ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council renewed their call to confront through the media anyone who seeks to question the eligibility of the State of Qatar to organize the 2022 World Cup,” WAM and QNA said in indentical reports.
U.S. prosecutors stunned international soccer last month by indicting 14 senior administrators and business figures, including FIFA officials, over alleged bribery and corruption in the sport. The scandal turned the spotlight again on the Qatar bid.
Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah told Reuters last week that criticism of his country was due to prejudice and racism.
Reporting By Noah Browning, Editing by William Maclean and Angus MacSwan