OCA president backs Qatar amid World Cup inquiry

Asia’s Olympic leader has backed Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid
despite allegations of vote collusion.

On the day an ethics commission for football’s governing body
was due to start hearings in Zurich, Olympic Council of Asia
president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah told The Associated Press
on Monday that he had full confidence in Qatar’s bid and its
leaders.

”Yes. I still believe. I wish Qatar will have the games,”
Sheikh Ahmad, a Kuwaiti, told AP at the Asian Games in Guangzhou,
southern China. ”Still, Qatar will have the highest votes for the
first round. I believe this.”

FIFA’s ethics panel will hold a three-day hearing to determine
whether two voters and at least two candidates should be barred
from the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests for alleged
corruption.

FIFA’s executive committee is due to select the hosts in a
secret ballot on Dec. 2. The poll could proceed without Reynald
Temarii of Tahiti and Nigeria’s Amos Adamu, who are suspended from
the 24-man executive committee and will argue for reinstatement
before the ethics committee.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper last month published secretly
filmed interviews with current and former FIFA officials that
suggested voters could be bribed, and that bidders were flouting
the rules by striking vote-trading pacts.

Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam also
has defended his native Qatar against allegations of colluding with
2018 contender Spain-Portugal to trade votes, saying the newspaper
claims are a major distortion.

FIFA has not identified which of the nine bidders it is
investigating. The European contest for 2018 is among England,
Russia and the joint bids of Belgium-Netherlands and
Spain-Portugal. The 2022 race involves the United States, Australia
and three Asian bids from Qatar, Japan and South Korea.

Sheikh Ahmad said he was awaiting the resolution of the FIFA
hearing but had little doubt Qatar’s bid team would be cleared.

”Until now there’s no evidence. Until now there’s no result,”
he said. ”But in the end it will be a big competition between all
the bidding countries for the World Cup.”