DOHA (Reuters) – Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organizers have welcomed a long-awaited FIFA report on the race to host the tournament, saying the conclusions represented “a vindication of the integrity” of Doha’s bid.
The report, which also investigated the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup, made no suggestion that either Russia or Qatar should lose the right to stage the tournament, despite detailing numerous attempts to influence voting officials.
The 430-page report had been under wraps since being completed by FIFA’s then-ethics investigator Michael Garcia in November 2014.
FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, chose to publish on Tuesday after the document was leaked to the German newspaper Bild.
“Although we question the timing of the leak, we welcome the publication of the Garcia report,” Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said in a statement.
“We believe that the extent of our cooperation with this investigation and the conclusions drawn represent a vindication of the integrity of our bid.”
Russia was awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 tournament in a single vote in Zurich in December, 2010. Qatar will be the first country in the Middle East to host the tournament.
In the report, Garcia wrote that Qatar “may not have met the standards set out in the FIFA code of ethics or the bid rules” but added, in mitigation, that it only was due to its cooperation that the issues were uncovered.
Qatar said earlier this month a rift with fellow Gulf Arab states that includes economic sanctions on Doha has not affected its preparations to host the World Cup, and alternative sources for construction materials had been secured.
FIFA has said it is in “regular contact” with Qatar, after Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt severed ties with Doha, accusing it of supporting Iran and funding Islamist groups. Qatar denies the charges.
In the running alongside Russia to stage the 2018 World Cup were England and joint bids from Spain/Portugal and the Netherlands/Belgium. Qatar’s rivals for the 2022 tournament were Australia, Japan, the United States and South Korea.
Football Federation Australia, whose publicly funded $35 million-bid to host the 2022 World Cup garnered one vote, also welcomed the report and said it contained no new “substantive” matters which have not already been investigated or reported.
“FFA has said repeatedly that the bid process for 2018 and 2022 was deeply flawed and that mistakes were made by the Australian bid team,” read a statement.
“However, FFA notes that FIFA continues to reform its governance, including relating to future tournament bids, and is confident mistakes of the past will not be repeated.”
(Writing by Sylvia Westall, editing by Nick Mulvenney)