Bin Hammam hits out at 'hidden war' against Qatar

Published Nov. 27, 2010 7:31 p.m. ET

Mohamed Bin Hammam has accused a Spanish newspaper of fabricating an interview with him as part of a ''hidden war'' against Qatar's bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

Bin Hammam said he'd never heard of sports daily Marca, which reported him saying that Qatar and 2018 candidate Spain-Portugal would support each other's bid.

''Today, you have to deal with the latest series of lies meant to damage your bid,'' the Qatari official wrote Saturday in a message to supporters published on his website. ''The alleged interview never took place.''

His outburst revealed rising tension as he and FIFA executive committee colleagues prepare to choose the World Cup hosts in secret ballots in Zurich.

Bin Hammam warned that worse may follow before the 22-man ruling panel votes on Thursday.

''You should expect more of this hidden war against your bid,'' he wrote. ''I did warn you that your noble cause to host the World Cup 2022 will face some unethical resistance.''

Bin Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation president, also was quoted by Marca saying that ''Asia supports the Iberian bid.''


On Saturday, Bin Hammam sought to clarify the AFC's position to ''repair the damage which might be caused by such deception.''

''The Asian executive committee had taken a decision to support Europe in 2018. However, no decision was taken to back any one country,'' he explained. ''We agreed to give the four Asian members the freedom to select the country that they deem appropriate.''

Spain-Portugal is competing with England, Russia and the joint Belgium-Netherlands bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Qatar's 2022 campaign was put on the defensive last month after FIFA said it would investigate unnamed bidders for allegedly breaking bid rules by colluding to share support.

FIFA's ethics committee said last week it found insufficient evidence to prove a Qatari-Iberian vote-trading deal. It also suspended two FIFA voters in a wide-ranging corruption probe

The verdicts came one day after FIFA published reports by its technical evaluation team which said Qatar's desert heat in June and July could jeopardize players' and fans' health.

The assessment also raised concerns that Qatar's size posed logistical challenges with 10 out of 12 proposed stadiums grouped within a 30-kilometer (19-mile) radius.

FIFA then published the detailed technical reports in full, which confirmed it graded Qatar as the highest-risk project among all bidders.

''You have managed to overcome with great success the accusations of collusion, the potential postponement of voting for 2022, the so-called challenges of weather, size and so many other things,'' Bin Hammam wrote to Qatar's supporters.

Qatar is competing for 2022 World Cup rights with the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.