Football: Qatar calls corruption reports deliberate attack

DOHA (AFP) - 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.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper has alleged that former Qatari football boss Mohamed Bin Hammam paid more than $5 million 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.