Qatar’s World Cup chief admits he is surprised by the criticism of FIFA’s decision to award his country the right to host the 2022 edition of the tournament.
Hassan al Thawadi, secretary general of the supreme committee for Qatar 2022, has had to deal with a barrage of accusations about the nation’s unsuitability as hosts since Qatar was selected.
There have been claims by a whistleblower who had worked for the Qataris, repeated under Parliamentary privilege but later retracted, that bribes were paid to two African FIFA members to ensure they voted for the Qatar bid.
And 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”.
There are also fears that the extremely hot climate will ruin the tournament for players and fans, but Al Thawadi told the Leaders in Football conference in London: “We did not expect this avalanche of allegations and accusations.
“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 said Qatar 2002 were “completely independent” of Bin Hammam, who is appealing against his ban.
He added: “Mohamed Bin Hammam is his own man. 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.”