Football’s governing body FIFA awarded Qatar the right to host the World Cup 2022 despite an internal briefing showing the Arab state was at “high risk” to a terrorist attack, The Sunday Times, quoting leaked documents, reported, in the latest article surrounding the controversial bid.
"In view of the risks ... Qatar is allocated a risk rating of high,” Andre Pruis, the South African police chief in charge of security at the World Cup 2010, wrote in an terror briefing assessing candidate countries vying to host the 2022 event, the newspaper said in a report titled “FIFA ignored own terror alert.”
“I am of the view that it would be very difficult to deal with a major incident in such an environment without having to cancel the event," said Pruis, who is now FIFA’s security consultant for the ongoing World Cup 2014 in Brazil.
The report, commissioned by FIFA’s secretary general in mid-November 2010, warned that Qatar’s “proximity to countries with an ... Al-Qaeda presence” and its plan to cram millions of fans and players into a “highly centralized” area made it a high-risk venue, the daily said.
The Sunday Times said the report, which ranked other bid nations’ risk level as “low to moderate,” was handed to Fifa’s executive committee (Exco) 17 days before Qatar won the right to host the 2022 event and was kept secret until it surfaced in a cache of confidential documents obtained by the daily.
The paper has published several reports alleging wrongdoing in the process that saw Qatar win the 2022 World Cup. One of the main claims is that Mohammad Bin Hammam, a former FIFA Exco member and Qatari national, had paid out millions of dollars to FIFA officials to help ensure Doha won the coveted bid.
While Bin Hammam has not commented on his involvement, the Qatar 2020 bidding body has denied “vehemently” any wrongdoing.
In a statement Saturday, Qatar 2022 reiterated its position, admitting it had a "relationship" with Bin Hammam but denying he was a part of the official bid team.
Not a member
"Let us be clear: Mr. Bin Hammam is from Qatar, but he was not a member of Qatar's bid team."
"We have nothing to hide ... In every aspect of the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process, we strictly adhered to FIFA's rules and regulations.”
The statement came shortly before The Sunday Times’ most recent report. Qatar 2022 said it expected further "attacks" on the bid process this weekend, referring to the articles.
The Sunday Times’ report said fresh documents unearthed from the Fifa files also revealed how the head of Qatar’s 2022, Hassan al-Thawadi, had allegedly arranged a lawyer for “the disgraced football chief” Hammam and “bankrolled” his private jet while he was campaigning to be Fifa president.
Hammam was banned for life from football in 2012 after allegations he paid bribes in his bid to become Fifa president. He has denies the allegations.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter has lashed out at the British media over the growing corruption scandal surrounding Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid, describing criticism in the U.K. media as being driven by “racism and discrimination.”
Blatter also claims that there is a plot “to destroy FIFA,” referring to the scandal as “Qatargate.”