DOHA: The man in charge of organising the 2022 World Cup says Qatar has been the victim of ‘clear bias’ from the media, reports aljazeera.com.
Aljazeera English channel is all set to air an interview today with the Secretary-General of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Committee, Hassan Al Thawadi.
A two-minute video clipping of excerpts of the interview was posted yesterday on aljazeera.com (the channel’s website).
Al Thawadi told Aljazeera that he believes Qatar was unfairly focused on during a corruption investigation.
Qatar was cleared of serious wrongdoing in the report that was put together for FIFA, football’s governing body, by American lawyer Michael Garcia.
Thawadi said that despite the fact that Garcia came from a country that was Qatar’s competitor in the 2022 bid, “We never raised the issue because we were confident of our position”.
He said Garcia was tasked with investigating all the countries who bid for the 2018 and 2022 world cups, but Qatar had been singled out.
In his first interview since the publication of the report’s summary last year, Al Thawadi said Qatar was not the only bid being investigated.
But the spotlight has fallen only on the Gulf country and not on Russia, which is hosting the 2018 World Cup, or the other countries with failed bids, he said.
“I can’t say if there is a prejudice against Qatar but what I can say is there is a clear bias,” Al Thawadi said in the interview.
“All the reporting on Michael Garcia, the description was, the focus was on us, on Qatar, and that was inaccurate. The simple fact was the investigation was on all bidding nations, 2018 along with 2022.”
He added: “And yet nevertheless, somehow, the focus still seems to be on us and I think that, if nothing else, clearly shows there is a bias.”
Al Thawadi also told Aljazeera that Qatar could still host the tournament in the summer despite concerns over the country’s climate.
Qatar has said it has the technology for the games to be played in stadiums with cooling technology.
“Since the first days of the bid we’ve always said a summer World Cup is feasible in Qatar, but whatever the football community decides, we will fulfil it,” said Al Thawadi.
Qatari officials are to meet bosses of football’s world governing body FIFA later this month in Doha to finalise the dates, with many believing the tournament will instead take place in winter.