Speaking at a weekly general assembly meeting of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the organization’s president Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah charged that any sort of accusations against the Gulf state “were racist actions towards Qatar and Arabs, revealing the malice of those parties in a way that has no justification.”
The remarks were reported by the AIPS Football Commission. According to a reporter there, al-Sabah’s comments come at a time when FIFA is especially sensitive to claims of racism and discrimination.
AIPS added that the Kuwaiti official “effectively painted the attack on Qatar as an attack on the entire Arab region and thus raised the political temperature.”
Al-Sabah, who is also president of the Association of National Olympic Committees, added:
“We will confront all such acts of racism and we will stand with Qatar so that no-one removes its right to organize the 2022 World Cup in Doha.
I stand by my brothers in Qatar and with Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim (Al Khalifa), the (Asian Football Confederation) president.”
Earlier this week, Al Khalifa, a Bahraini official, also expressed his support for Qatar, shortly after a series of articles in the Sunday Times alleged that his AFC predecessor, Mohamed Bin Hammam, paid African FIFA officials $5 million to vote for Qatar’s World Cup bid.
In a statement, Al Khalifa said he “expresses grave concerns over media reports regarding awarding the hosting rights of the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar.” He continued:
“Shaikh Salman says hosting the FIFA World Cup in Asia, especially in the Middle East, means a lot to the continent and he is looking forward to seeing a successful FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
The AFC President is convinced that the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, will do their utmost to clear the doubts.”
Meanwhile, other international football leaders are also weighing in on the latest allegations, which Qatar has emphatically denied.
UEFA president Michel Platini, who voted for Qatar’s bid, said he had “no regrets” about his decision in 2010. However, he added, according to the Guardian:
“I think it was the right choice for Fifa and world football but if corruption is proven, there will have to be a new vote and new sanctions.”
The idea that Qatar’s bid was tainted by corruption is not a new one, and has been discussed often in the four years since the country won the World Cup bid.
For the past several months, FIFA’s ethics chief, Michael Garcia, has been investigating the bidding process for the 2018 (Russia) and 2022 tournaments. He apparently met with Qatari officials in Oman this week, and plans to release a report outlining his findings in July.