Valcke withdraws Qatar claim

Valcke withdraws Qatar claim

Published May. 30, 2011 7:00 p.m. ET

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke backtracked Monday on his claim in a private email that Qatar had ''bought'' the right to host the 2022 World Cup, insisting he was merely referring to the size of the Gulf nation's campaign budget.

The initial claim was made by Valcke in an email to FIFA Vice President Jack Warner, who released it after being suspended by FIFA on Sunday over bribery allegations in Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam's campaign to replace Sepp Blatter as its president.

''I'd like to clarify that I may use in an email - a ''lighter'' way of expression by nature - a much less formal tone than in any form of correspondence,'' Valcke said in a FIFA statement. ''Having said that, when I refer to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in that email, what I wanted to say is that the winning bid used their financial strength to lobby for support.

''They were a candidate with a very important budget and have used it to heavily promote their bid all around the world in a very efficient manner.''


Valcke insisted he was not making ''any reference to any purchase of votes or similar unethical behavior.''

''For MBH, I never understood why he was running,'' Valcke had told Warner in the email. ''If really he thought he had a chance or just being an extreme way to express how much he does not like anymore JSB (Blatter). Or he thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the WC.''

The accusation of having ''bought'' the tournament was also denied by Qatari organizers in a statement released after Valcke's comments.

''Mr. Valcke's statement (to Warner) was clearly taken out of context, but again Qatar's name has been dragged through the mud for absolutely no reason,'' organizers said in a statement. ''We would like to reaffirm we won the World Cup bid with the best campaign and without breaching FIFA rules.''

Valcke also said in his statement that there is no FIFA investigation ongoing into the decision in December to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Issa Hayatou, president of the African Football Confederation, and Ivory Coast's Jacques Anouma were accused in the British parliament of being paid $1.5 million in bribes to vote for Qatar.

The evidence was submitted by the Sunday Times to a British parliamentary inquiry, having been unable to publish parts of an undercover investigation for legal reasons.

Hayatou and Anouma are still on the executive committee and strongly denied any wrongdoing.

But bin Hammam and Warner were both suspended after an ethics panel on Sunday found there was sufficient evidence to further investigate allegations that they offered $40,000 bribes to delegates at a Caribbean football association meeting earlier this month ahead of the presidential election on Wednesday.

Warner, the now-suspended president of CONCACAF, said he told the panel that Blatter gave a $1 million ''gift'' of FIFA money to a meeting of CONCACAF to spend ''as it deems fit.''

Warner said the money given to CONCACAF - the regional body for North, Central America and the Caribbean - had ''annoyed'' UEFA President Michel Platini.

However, Platini saw things differently on Monday.

''It's not like that, it was a joke with me and Mr. Blatter,'' Platini said. ''He can give the projects that he wants to give. I joke. I said, 'But Sepp this was not accepted by the committee,' - but he can give many projects to many national associations and we will confirm in the GOAL project after.

''In many Congresses for many, many years, the president can give one or two projects to national associations. He has his own budget and he can give to one confederation and then it has to be approved of course by the executive committee next time.''


AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar contributed to this report.