A top official of the Qatar 2022 organising committee has said that he is confident “the World Cup will take place in Qatar”.
He also said former FIFA executive committee member Mohamed bin Hammam had nothing to do with Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup in 2022 and that the organising committee was doing everything possible to make working conditions safe for migrants in the country.
In his first interview since allegations of corruption during the bid in 2010, reports of migrant worker abuse and the constant debate on whether Qatar is fit to host the tournament, World Cup 2022 Supreme Committee communications director Nasser al-Khater has told Al Jazeera TV that his country will comply with the investigation but stressed Qatar has nothing to hide.
Al-Khater spoke exclusively to Al Jazeera’s Lee Wellings in Brazil. The interview will be on Al Jazeera English today at 1045GMT (1.45pm Qatar time).
When asked about the FIFA ethics committee’s investigation into corruption during the bidding process for the right to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup, al-Khater said: “First of all, it is actually an investigation into the bidding process of 2018, 2022 World Cup; Qatar is part of that, Russia 2018 is part of that, the whole process is part of that, everybody involved is part of this investigation.
“So it is unfortunate that people single out Qatar every time they discuss it, which is absolutely not the case.
“We’ve been true to what we have said in the past, our statements that we always put up have held ourselves to the highest ethical standards.... We believe in it, we are confident of it and we are confident of how we’ve behaved.”
Al-Khater quickly distanced the relationship between Qatar’s World Cup bid team and Bin Hammam, the former FIFA executive who was recently accused of using a $5mn fund to not only buy goodwill for his tilt at the FIFA presidency but to aid the 2022 bid. Al-Khater denied any improper conduct from Qatar.
“Bin Hammam was an executive committee member like the rest of the 23 executive committee members that were present at the time. We had to engage with him, as we had to engage with everybody else. So definitely there was engagement with him. Was he part of our bid? He was not part of our bid. Did he represent us? Not at all, we have to remember that we had to engage with him, we had to convince him and it is not secret that at the very beginning he was quite sceptical about a World Cup in Qatar.
“But then when he saw the merits in a compact World Cup, he saw the merits on what we can give back to the world of football, I think just like we convinced the others, he was convinced as well.”
Prior to the 2014 World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter had said that the 2022 tournament might be held in Qatar’s winter instead of summer. Al-Khater said that either way Qatar could host the World Cup, in the summer months or winter.
“Let us be honest, we can host a World Cup in the summer. We are waiting on the task force to come back and make the recommendations and we are waiting for a decision that will be made by whether it is congress, the executive committee, I don’t know. We are waiting for that decision to be able to implement and go forward. Our plans won’t change, we are going to be ready to host the World Cup in 2022, whether it is the winter or summer of 2022.”
Al-Khater reassured the world the 2022 World Cup would be a celebration and truly a Middle Eastern affair.