By Andrew Warshaw at the Leaders in Football Conference in London
Published on Wednesday, 05 October 2011 21:20
October 5 - Ten months after winning the bid to stage the 2022 tournament, Qatar's World Cup chief today admitted that the tiny Gulf state's historic victory had been wounded by the constant negative publicity that accompanied the greatest upset in bidding history.
Speaking at the Leaders in Football Conference here, Hassan al Thawadi (pictured), secretary general of the supreme committee for Qatar 2022, said there was immense frustration at the unsubstantiated accusations of corruption that were directed at the country.
When the envelope was opened on December 2 in Zurich, he said, "we knew the work was only just beginning."
"What we did not expect was the avalanche of allegations and accusations that we would face in the aftermath of what was supposed to be an historic day.
"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."
The life ban imposed for alleged bribery on Mohamed Bin Hammam (pictured with Al Thawadi), Qatar's most powerful administrator and, at the time of the bidding process, head of Asian football, rightly or wrongly did little to aid Qatar's case for transparency.
But Al Thawadi said Qatar 2002 were "completely independent" of Bin Hammam, who is appealing against his ban.
"Mohamed Bin Hammam is his own man," said Al Thawadi.
"He and Qatar 2022 are completely independent and separate."
A leaked email from FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke in May said that Bin Hammam "thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the World Cup".
There were also been claims by a whistleblower who had worked for the bid, made public under Parliamentary privilege but later retracted, that Qatar paid bribes to two African FIFA members.
In relation to the Valcke email, al-Thawadi said: "It leads back to the same issues: frustration.
"I think Jerome Valcke came out and pointed out what he meant by that statement.
"We have to ride it out as patiently as having to ride out the whistleblower allegations and others.
"We 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 confirmed once again that fans will be able to buy alcohol during the tournament though not perhaps with the same freedom as in the west; promised there would be no risk of any political problems in the build up to the World Cup following the recent Arab spring; revealed that stadiums could be dismantled and exported to countries in need beyond 2022 in order to avoid white elephants; and stuck to the plan of hosting the tournament in summer despite some in the football hierarchy, notably UEFA President Michel Platini, questioning whether the intense heat would be overbearing in June and July.
"What we proposed was bold, new and exciting," Al-Thawadi said.
"We recognised from the beginning it would not be an easy task.
"Certain stereotypes that exist are inaccurate.
"It required a leap of faith which FIFA took and I can assure you we will deliver.
"We are looking to put the past behind us.
"The opportunities are limitless.
"The legacy of this World Cup extends far beyond football and sport. It will be a catalyst for social and economic change and a vehicle for bridging cultures.
"We will not rest until the day of the final."
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