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Feb 28, 2013

Qatar denies World Cup corruption

A former leading advisor of the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid has again dismissed claims that bribery and corruption played a hand in achieving hosting rights for football's biggest tournament.

Since FIFA's announcement in 2010, government officials and consultants have come under scrutiny amidst allegations of illegal dealings, but Mike Lee, who assisted with the bid and also worked on London's 2012 Olympic campaign, believes Qatar were deserved recipients of the World Cup.

"There have never been any accusations that have produced evidence about bribes being paid," he said. "I think the most recent coverage with France Football told us that there was government to government conversations going on, but in modern bidding that is normal.

"London 2012 won partly because of Tony Blair, Sochi 2014 won partly because of Vladimir Putin, Rio 2016 won partly because of President Lula. I certainly think there was evidence that governments were talking to governments but I don't see how that's different from most of the winning bids in recent times."

Many have doubted Qatar's ability to host the 2022 event due to heat issues and the country's legal practices, but Lee insists the doubters will be proved wrong.

"In some ways you can't judge the legacy of an Olympic games until 10 or 15 years after it has happened," he said. "It would be wrong to rush into judgements.

"I think they are things that have clearly been delivered in terms of the venues, regeneration of the east end of London and certainly in terms of elite sport we have had more success as a result of London 2012."