German chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected claims that pressure was put on German FIFA executive members to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.
Merkel's comments came after FIFA president Sepp Blatter claimed Germany and France had put pressure on their FIFA executive members, saying: "Two countries who put pressure on the FIFA electors were France and Germany."
He added: "They have to explain what they make of this situation," and alleged that both countries had urged a vote for Qatar because they had economic interests there.
But Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, rejected Blatter's claims and said: "For the chancellor, I can clearly say that at no time was there a recommendation to vote for Qatar as the host for any German FIFA executive member."
Earlier, Franz Beckenbauer, a member of the FIFA executive at the time of the vote, had told football talk show Sky90 he did not feel there had been any pressure on him or his fellow FIFA executive members.
On the same TV show, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, also the chairman of the European Club Association said that while it was known that former France president Nicolas Sarkozy was a major friend of Qatar, "similar stories are unknown to me from Germany."