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By ESPN Staff

Bin Hammam denies Iberian support

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed bin Hammam has denied reports stating that he has agreed to back the Spain-Portugal bid for the right to host the 2018 World Cup.

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Spanish newspaper Marca quoted the Asian football chief as saying he would give the Iberian bid his support when FIFA's executive committee gathers on December 2 in return for their backing for Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

Support from Asia would be a setback for the ambitions of other bidders England, Russia and Netherlands/Belgium to hold the tournament with CONMEBOL general secretary Eduardo Deluca having confirmed last Wednesday that Latin America's three votes would go to the Spain-Portugal bid, meaning they would potentially have seven guaranteed votes for Thursday's poll in Zurich.

However, in a message to supporters on his official website, bin Hammam insisted he has never publicly supported one bid stating: "A Spanish newspaper, called Marca, which I have never heard of, completely fabricated an interview with me, pretending that Asia and I will support Spain's bid.

"The Asian Executive Committee had taken a decision to support Europe in 2018. However, no decision was taken to back any one country. We agreed to give the four Asian members the freedom to select the country that they deem appropriate.''

Bin Hammam also claimed the newspaper article was part of a "hidden war'' to derail Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid.

A report last week by FIFA's technical evaluation team claimed the country's desert heat could jeopardise the health of fans and players while the organisation's ethics committee cleared the bid committees of the Qatar and Spain-Portugal of a vote-trading deal.

And bin Hammam is expecting Qatar's bid to come up against further challenges, adding: "I did warn you that your noble cause to host the World Cup 2022 will face some unethical resistance.

"So far, with the blessings of God Almighty and those who believe in your vision, you have managed to overcome with great success, the accusations of collusion, the potential postponement of voting for 2022, the so-called challenges of weather, size and so many other things.

"But as I have warned you before, you should expect more of this hidden war against your bid and you should not exclude that the worse part of it may be yet to come.''


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