SHAFAQNA – By Patrick Johnston
MANILA (Reuters) – A defiant FIFA President Sepp Blatter said there would be no moving the 2022 World Cup from Qatar, despite widespread concerns about the bidding process that took the tournament to the Middle East for the first time.
“2022, it is Qatar, and ladies and gentleman, believe me, with all that has been said around the world by whom? Those not involved with what happens in soccer. The World Cup in 2022 will be played in Qatar,” the 78-year-old Swiss told Asian Football Confederation members in Manila on Sunday.
The remarks, cheered and applauded loudly by Asian delegates, come as FIFA faces heavy criticism for not publishing a report by ethics investigator Michael Garcia into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Garcia’s findings were summarized in a 42-page statement published by FIFA ethics judge Hans-Joachim Eckert last week, which cleared the two winning bids, but which Garcia himself complained included misrepresentations.
FIFA has said it cannot publish the full report for legal reasons.
Asked if the report should be published in full, the Swiss said: “We are going now to the executive committee meeting with all these matters on the 19th (of December) in Morocco.”
A report in British newspaper The Sunday Times said it had passed on a dossier revealing further allegations of corruption regarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids, to a House of Commons committee and which were published on Saturday.
Blatter, however, appeared untroubled by the ongoing saga, taking the opportunity to throw his weight behind the capabilities of the Middle East nations.
“It is the second time we will go to organize the World Cup in Asia. The first was a lovely combination, a co hosting, between Japan and Korea Republic. It was a great success, a big success,” said the Swiss, who is seeking a fifth term as head of FIFA next year.
“But we have the next one. It will be the first time in the Arabic world but there is another competition that I would like to underline, the under 17 women’s tournament in 2016.
“For the first time….we are coming with women’s world cup in 2016 to the kingdom of Jordan. It is the trust and confidence of FIFA toward the Arabic world that they can organize all the competitions.”
Following the announcement, the Qatar Football Association were named winners of the AFC’s Dream Asia Award, a prize given, according to the AFC, to a body who use soccer as a tool for social change, enlighten the importance of social responsibility and promote the culture of giving.
(Reporting by Patrick Johnston; editing by Martyn Herman)