Qatar 2022 World Cup bid 'did nothing wrong'

Khalifa international stadium
Qatar 2022 bid organisers said all stadiums would be climate-controlled

Qatar's World Cup chief has mounted a vigorous defence of the Gulf state's right to host the 2022 tournament.

Fifa's decision to award Qatar the World Cup has been mired by allegations of corruption.

But the Supreme Committee For The 2022 World Cup's general secretary, Hassan al Thawadi, told BBC Sport: "The Qatar bid did not do anything wrong."

And he dismissed the "unsubstantiated allegations" as "prejudice" and "taking things out of context."

The tiny oil-rich state, with a population estimated to be around 1.7m, will be the first Middle Eastern country to host a major sporting event.

"Why is everyone focusing on Qatar?" questioned al Thawadi.

"The attack on 2022 fits the prejudice people have in their minds. An Arab nation could not have won."

Asked whether Qatar bribed Fifa members to win the World Cup, al Thawadi replied: "Plain and simply, no."

He added: "We never broke any rules in response to a question over whether the Gulf state had paid money or gifts to secure the 2022 tournament."

Phaedra Almajid, a "whistleblower" behind a series of corruption allegations involving Fifa executive committee members and Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid, has told the BBC she fabricated the claims.

In a vote held by Fifa's executive committee on 2 December 2010 in Zurich, Qatar beat Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to host the tournament.

Ever since, though, Qatar has had to combat a string of negative headlines and stories over its successful bid and its suitability to host the 2022 tournament.

Al Thawadi described calls for a possible review of the decision as an "absolute outrage", adding: "If there is evidence, investigate the evidence, but if there is nothing there and it's based on rumours…"

Further suspicions were raised about Qatar's bid in May when an e-mail written by Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke to former Fifa vice president Jack Warner was leaked.

In it, Valcke hinted Qatar's suspended executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam was trying to buy the Fifa presidency as Qatar had "bought" the World Cup finals.

Valcke wrote: "[Hammam] thought you can buy Fifa as they bought the World Cup."

The Fifa general secretary later insisted he was referring to Qatar's bid budget rather than accusing the country of any unethical behaviour or wrongdoing.

But that did not placate al Thawadi.

He said: "We were very angry when we heard about [the e-mail]. We sent a letter to Fifa straight away, requesting an explanation in very firm tones. We said if it was not explained we reserve all right to take legal action."

The Gulf state has also attracted criticism over the amount of money it spent on its bid.

Their total budget was significantly more than $43m (£27m) quoted by previous reports and included $25m (£15.7m) on an air-cooling prototype shown to Fifa members during their campaign.

"We will not lie, our bid budget was significantly higher than any of the other bids, yes," said al Thawadi.

"Our campaign had to use whatever advantages it could have towards coming out and being considered a credible campaign. One of our strongest advantages was, yes, our resources."

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