Qatar football head responds strongly following Blatter resignation

by  — 3 June 2015

As Sepp Blatter resigned as FIFA president and the United Kingdom's football chief Greg Dyke, chairman of the Football Association (FA) made disparaging comments about the integrity of Qatar's awarding of the 2022 World Cup, the Arabian Gulf country's football association head responded immediately with an emphatic media statement.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter (R) and Qata

Happier times: Now outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, president of the Qatar Football Association (QFA) shortly after the announcement of Qatar as the venue for the 2022 World Cup. (Image Getty Images)

“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,” read a statement issued on behalf of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, president of the Qatar Football Association (QFA).

In the statement, Al Thani also referenced the internal inquiry conducted by FIFA itself into corruption allegations surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar respectively. “Having already co-operated fully with Mr Garcia’s investigation – and been subsequently cleared of any wrong-doing – 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,” Al Thani concluded in the release, which was published on the organisation’s website soon after the Blatter resignation and Dyke’s subsequent comments.

In a related story, Qatar has also reacted strongly to allegations published in various international media recently regarding the alleged number of migrant worker deaths related to construction work on stadiums and related infrastructure, including a story published on the Washington Post‘s website last week.

So read a statement by the Qatar government’s communication office published yesterday by the Qatar News Agency (QNA): “An article in the Washington Post on 27 May (‘The Human Toll of FIFA’s Corruption’) claimed that 4,000 workers are likely to die while working on World Cup sites, and that some 1,200 had already lost their lives. This is completely untrue. In fact, after almost five million work-hours on World Cup construction sites, not a single worker’s life has been lost. Not one.”

Qatar had requested that the Washington Post retract the article, but according to Doha News website this request was denied.

Recent months have seen a barrage of negative media reports around the world regarding the veracity of Qatar’s claim to the 2022 World Cup rights and the status and treatment of its migrant workers, leading to many to advocate that the country be denied of the rights to host the event.

However, Qatar has mostly been quiet on the official media up to now, offering few retorts. But with the arrests of several FIFA executives last week and the surprise announcement yesterday of Blatter’s resignation, it does seem the country’s PR machine has begun to respond and we should expect far more of the same from Doha before the story of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup runs its full course.

Recent related articles:

Editorial by The Edge managing editor Miles Masterson on why, as the reasons for Qatar not hosting the 2022 World Cup are essentially the same throughout the region, will the event even be held anywhere in the Middle East if Qatar is prevented from doing so, as many have been calling for?

A recent exclusive interview, conducting before this past week’s occurrences, with Nasser Al Khater, executive director, communications and marketing for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and Deputy CEO of the Qatar 2022 Local Organising Committee, following the announcement that the Qatar event would be moved from summer to winter and why Qatar’s event could be the most successful FIFA World Cup ever.



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