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Qatari panel says Garcia Report vindicates 2022 World Cup bid – Timing of publication questioned

DOHA, June 28, (AFP): Qatar World Cup organisers said on Wednesday that the surprise publication of FIFA’s Garcia Report “vindicated the integrity” of its successful bid to host the 2022 tournament.

In a statement, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy also questioned the timing of the publication, which comes as Qatar faces political isolation from many neighbouring countries. “We believe that the extent of our cooperation with this investigation and the conclusions drawn represent a vindication of the integrity of our bid,” read the statement. “We will continue to dedicate ourselves toward delivering on the promises we made during our bid and hosting an historic first FIFA World Cup in the Middle East.”

Although the long-awaited report from US independent investigator Michael Garcia highlighted an array of potentially suspect financial dealings, there appeared to be no “smoking gun” which could end up denying Qatar the World Cup in five years’ time.

His report referred to a payment of £2 million ($2.6 million) allegedly sent by a consultant for Qatar, Sandro Rosell, to the 10-year-old daughter of a FIFA official. The payment was described by an associate as the proceeds from a real estate deal. But Garcia concluded that no proof existed to link Qatar to the payment.

Rosell, an ex-Barcelona president, is currently in prison under investigation for money laundering related to the sale of the Brazilian national football team’s television rights.

Garcia’s investigation also revealed that one former FIFA executive committee member thanked Qatar by mail for a transfer of several hundred thousand euros just after Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament. And it also documents that three executive members of FIFA were flown to Rio de Janeiro for a private party ahead of the vote to decide who would host the 2022 World Cup.

Garcia’s report was commissioned in 2012 and presented to FIFA in 2014. Following his investigation, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s ethics committee said there was not enough evidence to call into question Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup. FIFA — which had previously only published a 40- page summary of the report — finally made the document public after it was obtained by German newspaper Bild.

Qatar’s statement added that “we question the timing of the leak”, which comes at a time of high political tension in the Gulf. Countries led by Saudi Arabia announced earlier this month the suspension of ties with Qatar, accusing it of support for extremist groups — a claim Doha denies.

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