Blatter: No comment on Qatar 2022 payment claims

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 21, 2014 at 7:40 pm •  Published: March 21, 2014
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ZURICH (AP) — FIFA President Sepp Blatter refused to comment on allegations linking Qatar's winning World Cup bid to payments received by voters.

Blatter said at a news conference on Friday "I have not even the right" to discuss claims published this week by the Daily Telegraph.

The British newspaper said it had evidence that a Qatari company controlled by former FIFA board member Mohamed bin Hammam paid almost $2 million to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner's family after the December 2010 vote.

Blatter referred questions to a statement on behalf of its ethics investigation panel, which was "aware of the material identified in the published article."

The claims were aired as Blatter and other FIFA executive committee members were being interviewed in Zurich as part of an investigation by ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests, won by Russia and Qatar.

Pressed further on the subject, Blatter insisted he will not comment "until they have finished their work."

Garcia is expected to deliver a report this year to the judging panel of FIFA's ethics court.

"As with any allegations of misconduct by football officials the ethics committee will take whatever action it feels is appropriate," the statement on behalf of Garcia said.

Still, he has limited jurisdiction at best. Bin Hammam is already banned from football for life, and Warner resigned in June 2011 to avoid a previous FIFA investigation into a cash-for-votes scandal linked to the Qatari's failed presidential bid.

As future World Cup hosts continue to trouble FIFA, Blatter said he would make another visit to Qatar before this year's tournament starts in Brazil in June to press for progress in the gas-rich emirate's treatment of migrant laborers.

Blatter's board colleague, Theo Zwanziger, said FIFA has asked Qatari authorities for "honest reports" on the situation.

Labor unions and rights groups have campaigned to highlight unsafe conditions, unpaid salaries and contracts tying workers to their employer.

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