Anti-Qatar Wold Cup campaign ‘racist’

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Qatar WC June 1

AFP

Former Fifa executive member for Qatar. Mohamed Bin Hammam, is alleged to have used slush funds to pay top football officials to win support for Qatars World Cup bid. Photo: Abbas Momani

Paris - Asia's top Olympic official on Thursday blasted accusations of corruption against Qatar's 2022 World Cup campaign as being “racist” attacks on Arabs.

Pressure for action over the allegations grew however as UEFA president Michel Platini said a new vote on the 2022 host should be called if corruption was proved.

Britain's Sunday Times set off a new controversy this week when it alleged that former Qatari football chief Mohamed bin Hammam paid more than $5 million to win support for Qatar's bid.

Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia and the Association of National Olympic Committees, strongly defended Qatar though.

The attacks were “racist actions towards Qatar and Arabs, revealing the malice of those parties in a way that has no justification,” the International Sporting Press Association quoted the Kuwaiti sheikh as saying.

“We will confront all such acts of racism and we will stand with Qatar so that no-one removes its right to organise the 2022 World Cup in Doha,” he added.

“I stand by my brothers in Qatar,” the sheikh declared.

A FIFA investigator, US lawyer Michael Garcia, met Qatari World Cup committee officials in Oman this week, a source close to the meetings said.

The first talks were on Wednesday and were to wrap up on Thursday, the source told AFP.

Garcia is looking into whether there was corruption in the December 2010 FIFA executive vote that awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

He is to hand his report to a FIFA ethics committee on June 9, the day before the world body starts its annual congress in Sao Paulo.

UEFA President and FIFA executive member Michel Platini, who voted for Qatar in 2010, told L'Equipe newspaper that if the corruption allegations were proven there should be a re-vote.

“If there is proof of corruption, it will take a new vote and sanctions,” Platini was quoted as saying.

Platini again rejected claims by English newspaper the Daily Telegraph this week that he held “a secret meeting” with Hammam.

He admitted attending a “private lunch” with Nicolas Sarkozy when he was France's president, and a group of high-ranking Qataris.

Platini, a potential rival to FIFA president Sepp Blatter in an election next year, insisted he was not influenced by anyone to vote for Qatar.

“On arriving at the lunch I found that the Qataris were there and I felt there was a subliminal message in them being present.

“However, I would emphasise that I went to the lunch to see the president and I did not know the Qataris would be there.

“Nobody told me who to vote for. Qatar never did and nor did Sarkozy,” Platini said.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron indicated that his country would be ready to host the 2022 tournament if Qatar lost the event.

Asked at a Brussels G7 summit news conference about the case, Cameron said “we should let the investigation run its course.

“But of course, England is the home of football, as it's the home and inventor of many sports, tennis, rugby, golf, skiing, table tennis, cricket.”

At this point US President Barack Obama - joint host of the press conference - jokingly butted in: “Baseball, basketball.”

A laughing Cameron then added: “But, we're always happy to provide a home for these sports.”

Sapa-AFP


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