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Oct 5, 2011

Qatar chief slams negative publicity

A leading figure in Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup bid has expressed his dismay at the furore surrounding FIFA's decision to award the country hosting rights, criticising what he feels are "baseless accusations" against his team.

• Bin Hammam fails in ban appeal

Hassan al Thawadi, secretary general of the supreme committee for Qatar 2022, is frustrated by the allegations levelled against the Qatar bid team both during the bid process and in the months since last December's announcement.

A leaked email from FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke in May said Qatar's FIFA member Mohamed Bin Hammam "thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the World Cup''.

And there have also been claims by a whistleblower who had worked for the bid, repeated under Parliamentary privilege but later retracted, that Qatar paid bribes to two African FIFA members.

"We did not expect this avalanche of allegations and accusations," Al Thawadi said. "Baseless accusations were made against our bid, we were presumed guilty before innocent without a shred of evidence being produced. We conducted our bid to the highest ethical and moral standards.

"It was very, very frustrating as we had worked very hard on delivering the messages, and our campaign was a very good campaign. To hear the innuendos being the main headline hurt us.''

Bin Hammam, who promoted the successful vote for Qatar among fellow FIFA members, has since been banned for life by FIFA for bribery in connection with his presidential campaign.

Al Thawadi insisted the Qatar 2022 team were "completely independent'' of Bin Hammam, who is appealing against his ban.

"Mohamed Bin Hammam is his own man," Al Thawadi said. "He and Qatar 2022 are completely independent and separate, The appeal is his decision and his steps. We have to ride it out as patiently as having to ride out the whistleblower allegations and others.''

In relation to the Valcke email, he added: "It leads back to the same issues: frustration. I think Jerome Valcke came out and pointed out what he meant by that statement.

"We did put considerable resources into our bidding process. It is not a fact we denied. We put in considerable resources to get our messages heard as loud as the other bidding nations.''

Al Thawadi also confirmed that fans will be able to buy alcohol during the tournament.

"Alcohol will be available but may not be as available as it will be in London,'' he said. "Any fan who wants to enjoy the World Cup with a drink will be able to find a drink.''

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