Sunday 8 December 2019

No re-vote needed for Qatar 2022 World Cup, claims top FIFA executive

Martyn Ziegler

FIFA's medical chief Michel D'Hooghe has said he is convinced there will not be a re-vote for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

D'Hooghe, who was one of the FIFA executive committee members who took part in the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in December 2010, believes there was no corruption involved in the bidding.

There have been numerous allegations about the bidding process for the tournaments, which is the subject of an investigation by FIFA's ethics chief Michael Garcia.

But D'Hooghe told the Evening Standard: "There will be absolutely no re-vote. Some in the English press want that. But it's not the English press that decide."

Asked whether corruption might have been involved, D'Hooghe, from Belgium, added: "Absolutely not. I had no feeling anything was going on then and I still have no feeling that there was corruption during this vote."

D'Hooghe led the unsuccessful joint Belgium/Holland bid for 2018 - though it fared better than England's - and claimed people in FIFA felt the on-going criticism of the world governing body was "sour grapes" despite the recent reforms it had brought in.

He said: "But, for the British press, whatever we do is never enough. And the feeling in FIFA is that all this British criticism is partly sour grapes.

"In football you win and you lose. If England feel they have not had a World Cup since 1966, then Belgium has never had the World Cup. England must not complain. They just had the Olympics and organised it fantastically."

D'Hooghe did, however, reiterate his belief that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar cannot be played in the heat of summer - the heat was pointed out as potentially seriously problem by the technical inspectors who reported on the bid.

He added: "In my capacity as chairman of the medical committee, I said the same - that in Qatar, we have to avoid the warmest period of the year.

"That essentially means June, July and August. I have never changed my opinion from the very beginning."

D'Hooghe also revealed he has met Garcia and believes that the US attorney should be allowed to proceed with his investigation despite a small number of FIFA members being unhappy about his involvement.

He said: "It was only after the (executive committee) meeting that I heard that some people were not prepared to accept Garcia.

"It is very clear. We, the executive committee, had proposed to congress to establish an ethical committee and I would not consider taking that responsibility away from Mr Garcia.

"This guy takes his work very seriously. I am very impressed with him and really support him.

"Mr Garcia plans to interview all the FIFA executive committee who participated in the vote and are still on the executive.

"I had a very good talk with him and a chance to tell him what I knew of the elections. I had, of course, nothing to hide."

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Online Editors

The Left Wing: The problem with the Champions Cup, the Stephen Larkham effect and trouble in Welsh rugby

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport