RIO DE JANEIRO: FIFA has sought to rebuff the latest concerns raised by The Sunday Times over the award of the 2022 World Cup finals to the Gulf state of Qatar writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The latest salvo from the newspaper – which broke the original votes-for-cash scandal in the autumn of 2010 – concerns a report ordered into the potential for a terrorist attack on a World Cup in Qatar.

Jerome Valcke, the world federation’s secretary-general, was said by the newspaper to have ordered the “damning report” which was handed to the voting members of the executive committee “17 days before Qatar was chosen.”

The newspaper said that the Gulf state was the only one rated as a “high risk” according to the report drawn up by Andre Pruis, a South African who had been in charge of police operations at the 2010 World Cup and later became a FIFA security consulant.

Other bid nations were assessed as low to moderate risks.

Bid countries

However, FIFA asserted that newspaper had taken the report on Qatar and its comments “out of context.”

The issue was raised at the daily morning media briefing in Rio de Janeiro. FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer said: “Any major event and also big cities are always at potential risk. Yes, there was a report done for all the bidding countries but the way The Sunday Times put it was out of context.

“Otherwise you can never run any big event in any city. An city or also Olympic Games, for example, where you have a huge number of athletes coming together is a potential risk. So this was normal procedure.”

The Sunday Times has alleged that Mohamed Bin Hammam, a Qatari who was president of the Asian confederation in 2010, used a $5m slush fund to win support for Qatar’s World Cup bid in Asia and the Caribbean.

Qatar’s organising committee has described the allegations as “riddled with innuendo” and a “a flagrant attempt to prejudice an ongoing independent investigation” which sought to harm “our right to a fair hearing.”