FIFA chief dismisses Qatar re-vote
FIFA executive committee member Michel D’Hooghe has told the Evening Standard that there will not be a re-vote to decide the destination of the 2022 World Cup and labelled claims of corruption from the British press as “sour grapes”.
The bidding process that decided Qatar would host the tournament is currently under investigation by an independent ethics commission headed up by former FBI investigator Michael Garcia.
D’Hooghe has also denied that corruption could have been a part of the process which saw Qatar awarded the tournament by FIFA, and claimed the whole thing has been exaggerated by the media in England.
He said: “There will be absolutely no re-vote. Some in the English press want that. But it's not the English press that decide.”
Asked whether corruption might have been involved, D'Hooghe, added: “Absolutely not. I had no feeling anything was going on then and I still have no feeling that there was corruption during this vote.”
D’Hooghe has met Garcia and welcomes FIFA’s decision to promote transparency in its processes.
“It was only after the [executive committee] meeting that I heard that some people were not prepared to accept Garcia.
“It is very clear. We, the executive committee, had proposed to congress to establish an ethical committee and I would not consider taking that responsibility away from Mr Garcia.
“This guy takes his work very seriously. I am very impressed with him and really support him.
“Mr Garcia plans to interview all the FIFA executive committee who participated in the vote and are still on the executive. I had a very good talk with him and a chance to tell him what I knew of the elections. I had, of course, nothing to hide.”
The Belgian then went on to say ongoing criticism of FIFA from the British press was led by bitterness due to the failure of their own 2018 World Cup bid.
He said: “But, for the British press, whatever we do is never enough. And the feeling in FIFA is that all this British criticism is partly sour grapes.
“In football you win and you lose. If England feel they have not had a World Cup since 1966, then Belgium has never had the World Cup. England must not complain. They just had the Olympics and organised it fantastically.”
D’Hooghe, who is chairman of FIFA’s medical committee, did say, however, that it was not feasible for the 2022 World Cup to go ahead during the heat of summer.
The exact date of the tournament is still undecided due to the problems that would arise from a potential interruption to the traditional European domestic calendar.
He said: “In my capacity as chairman of the medical committee, I said the same -- that in Qatar, we have to avoid the warmest period of the year.
“That essentially means June, July and August. I have never changed my opinion from the very beginning.”