Fresh reports have stated that the FBI are including the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the scope of their wider investigations into FIFA, and that Sepp Blater – who announced on Tuesday he is to step down as FIFA president days after winning re-election – is also being investigated.
The US justice department has indicted 18 people on corruption charges, but the charges are unrelated to the two tournaments.
A statement from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said: “The recent events at FIFA will not impact on our preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. With five stadiums currently under construction we are ahead of schedule to deliver on our promises.
“Qatar has faced criticism from the moment we won the right to bring this tournament to the Middle East for the first time. We remain committed to using the World Cup as a platform to break down prejudice and misconceptions, while leaving a lasting legacy for our country and the rest of the region.” Blatter’s shock announcement he is to step down as FIFA president continued to reverberate throughout football as South Africa’s sports minister denied the country had paid World Cup bribes.
It follows the allegation that a $10million payment was made via FIFA’s executive office to disgraced FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, connected to the 2010 World Cup.
The South African Football Association sent a letter in 2008 to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke saying the money should be administered directly by Warner, who is on bail in Trinidad pending extradition to the US.
South Africa’s sports minister Fikile Mbalula said the money was an agreed contribution to support the “African diaspora” in the Caribbean.
Mbalula told a news conference: “The money was to support other projects in the diaspora. What we are saying is we did not bribe. We don’t know what compromised individuals say when they are compromised.” Mbalula added that the South African government did not know what had happened to the $10m.
Valcke has also protested his innocence. He said: “I have nothing to blame myself for and I certainly do not feel guilty so I do not even have to justify my innocence.”
UEFA president Michel Platini, one of the possible candidates to succeed 79-year-old Blatter, has postponed a meeting of European associations in Berlin on Saturday. Platini said: “Due to (Tuesday’s) announcement and the uncertain and unpredictable nature of the investigations, I have decided that it would be more appropriate to postpone the meeting that was announced last week, and which could have taken place in Berlin this weekend.
The Russia 2018 local organising committee issued a statement yesterday in which it praised Blatter for his “enormous contribution” to football at all levels.