DOHA/LONDON: Qatar’s World Cup organisers hit back hard after Greg Dyke suggested its hosting of the 2022 finals was now in question after the impending exit of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.
Dyke, chairman of the Football Association, had indicated that after Blatter the next target for European antagonism would be the Gulf state which is scheduled to the host the finals in 2022.
Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, president of the Qatar Football Association, said: “Mr Dyke’s instinct to immediately focus on stripping Qatar of the World Cup speaks volumes on his views concerning what will be the first FIFA World Cup to take place in the Middle East.
“Having already co-operated fully with [former ethics chairman] Mr Michael Garcia’s investigation – and been subsequently cleared of any wrong-doing – we welcome the Office of the Swiss Attorney General conducting its own work into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
“We would urge Mr Dyke to let the legal process take its course and concentrate on delivering his promise to build an England team capable of winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”
Dyke. earlier, had hailed Blatter’s exit as “brilliant for world football, the start of something new.”
He added: “When I left Zurich last Friday I said: ‘This is not over’ – but even I couldn’t have thought it’d be over so soon.
“Why didn’t he step down last week? Clearly there’s a smoking gun of some sort. He’s not been honourable in years. Now he’s gone – let’s celebrate.
“FIFA needs a root and branch examination, we need to know where the money is being spent. It’s been a corrupt organisation for something like 30 years and at long last we’ve got a chance to change it. What matters is can we reform FIFA?”
Looking ahead Dyke added: “People are assuming that 2022 will still be in Qatar, but I am not sure that is certain any more.
“You look at what the Swiss authorities are doing. These are the Swiss authorities, not some small prosecuting authority from a small country – this is the Swiss – they are looking at what level of corruption was there into the awarding of that World Cup.
“If they come out and say it was corrupt I don’t think we will see a Qatar World Cup.”
Culture secretary John Whittingdale, a long-time critic of FIFA under Blatter said the world governing body now had to implement major reforms.
He said: “Governments, national associations and international confederations, along with players and fans have all called for Sepp Blatter to resign in recent days.
“We welcome his belated announcement today but this is only the beginning of the process of change we need to see from FIFA. I sincerely hope this is the first step to a new FIFA that can command the confidence and respect of the football world once again.”
Blatter’s announcment may persuade David Gill and Heather Rabbatts to review their decisions to resign from the FIFA executive committee and the anti-discrimination task force respectively.