Qatar has told England’s Football Association (FA) to focus on developing a team to win the 2022 World Cup instead of concerning itself over which country will host the event.
Immediately after FIFA President Sepp Blatter announced his decision to resign from world football’s governing body on Tuesday, FA Chairman Greg Dyke raised the possibility that the controversial vote that awarded Qatar the tournament could be rerun.
“If I was the Qatari organisers I wouldn’t sleep very well tonight,” the former TV executive told British media.
In response, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al Thani, Qatar Football Association’s president, said in a statement that Qatar had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the FIFA-commissioned Garcia report on corruption.
Mr Dyke’s instinct to immediately focus on stripping Qatar of the World Cup speaks volumes on his views concerning what will be the first FIFA World Cup to take place in the Middle East, the statement said.
“Having already cooperated fully with Mr Garcia’s investigation – and been subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing – we welcome the Office of the Swiss Attorney General conducting its own work into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
“We would urge Mr Dyke to let the legal process take its course and concentrate on delivering his promise to build an England team capable of winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”
Former US Attorney Michael Garcia was appointed by FIFA in 2012 with the priority of probing the controversial 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.
He resigned in 2014 after a FIFA judge cleared the World Cup bids, based on his findings – which were never fully released.
At the time, Garcia claimed the judge’s decision contained “numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations” of his investigation.
Swiss authorities announced a criminal investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups last Wednesday, the same day that US authorities indicted nine FIFA officials and five business executives on corruption charges.
A legal source based in the UK said on Wednesday that any attempt to “unpick” a World Cup bid would require a legal decision that proved fraud had occurred – and that such a legal case could take years to finalise.
The source said the large number of contracts already signed between FIFA and sponsors, and host nations and third parties, would be extremely difficult to unravel.
“It would be a legal minefield,” said the expert, who asked not to be named.
“There are so many sponsors… The levels of compensation [they could claim] would be astronomical and run into billions of dollars.”