Qatar bid chief makes prejudice claim

Qatar 2022 World Cup bid chief Hassan al Thawadi has rejected allegations of corruption and suggested an anti-Arab bias may be to blame.The Qatar bid has been the subject of reports claiming FIFA executive committee members were bribed to ensure the showcase tournament was awarded to the Gulf state.

The allegations were first published in British newspaper The Sunday Times, before a UK government select committee revealed their source – a sacked member of the Qatar bid – under parliamentary privilege.

The ‘whistleblower’, former Qatar 2022 media officer Phaedra Almajid, has now retracted her claims.

And bid chief al Thawadi believes envy of the country’s considerable wealth influenced rumours of corruption.

“I do not believe these claims are being made out of racism,” al Thawadi told The Guardian.

“But I genuinely think that ignorance fed into prejudice and made it a more fertile ground for these rumours to take seed and grow.”

“I do believe there is prejudice against the fact that we are a rich, Arab nation – yes, I think there is genuine prejudice there.”

Al Thawadi also said he had considered launching a investigation to clear the bid of any wrongdoing, but resented the calls for an enquiry when no other bid was subject to the same demands.

Al Thawadi said: “Why do I have to prove my innocence when there is not a shred of evidence?”

“Why should we have an investigation if no other country has one, even Russia, which won the 2018 World Cup by the same people on the same day after the same process?”