PARIS (Reuters) - Qatar’s Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah said on Wednesday there was “no way” his country would be stripped of its right to host the 2022 World Cup, accusing Qatar’s critics of an anti-Arab campaign.
“It is very difficult for some to digest that an Arab Islamic country has this tournament, as if this right can’t be for an Arab state,” he told Reuters in an interview in Paris a day after FIFA President Sepp Blatter resigned.
“I believe it is because of prejudice and racism that we have this bashing campaign against Qatar,” he added.
Blatter, who counted the nations of the Arabian Gulf among his strongest allies, rocked the world of soccer on Tuesday by unexpectedly saying he would step down over a corruption investigation driven by U.S. and Swiss authorities.
When asked if they could lose the right to host the tournament, Al-Attiyah said: “No way Qatar can be stripped (of it). We are confident of the procedures and deserve to win it because we presented the best file (bid).”
No sooner had Blatter announced his decision than English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke raised the possibility that the controversial vote that awarded Qatar the tournament could be re-run.
While not naming any country or entity, Al-Attiyah said that when the time came Doha would be able to show who was behind a campaign against Qatar.
“We are not in a position today to show what we have in terms of who is behind this campaign against Qatar and why they are trying to deprive Qatar of this right,” he said.
“But when the time comes we will show the public what we have, whether it comes from entities or countries from outside the region or not. The time hasn’t come yet.”
Qatar beat Australia, Japan, the United States and South Korea to win the right to host the tournament, but the ballot has been dogged by allegations of corruption ever since.
The summary of an internal FIFA investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, released in 2014, cleared the Qatar bid of wrongdoing.
The Swiss Attorney General announced its own investigation into the bidding processes after local police arrested several FIFA officials in Zurich last week.
“We are honest and confident we haven’t (committed) any wrongdoing,” he said.
Reporting By John Irish