Allegations by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper against FIFA and Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 Football World Cup are “sordid and personal - not about football”, a leading communications strategist has said.
In an interview with BBC Newshour, Michael Holtzman, president of BLJ Worldwide, said the conspiracy against Qatar 2022 was managed by “troublemakers who have no solid evidence” to prove their charges.
BLJ is an international public relations firm with offices in New York, Washington DC, London and Doha.
According to him one of the reasons for UK newspapers to target Qatar may be Britain’s “non-acceptance of a State which was its protectorate to have the honour of hosting the World Cup”.
He said the allegations were not based on any facts. “Britain is unhappy of being the country that has invented the football but has not hosted the World Cup since 1966. This is one of the reasons for releasing these untrue accusations by the British newspapers against Qatar and its World Cup file,” Holtzman said.
He also said the “surly campaign” against Qatar by The Sunday Times may have been triggered by jealousy as Robert Murdoch, media baron and the owner of The Sunday Times, was not happy with the great development and growth of beIN SPORTS, the widely popular Al Jazeera Sports channel.
“beIN SPORTS” has the exclusive broadcasting rights of the most important world tournaments and championships including the FIFA World Cup currently under way in Brazil.
“Another reason for the campaign is that Joseph Blatter, the FIFA president is not happy with Bin Hammam (former executive member of FIFA) who contested for the presidency and tried to dethrone him. This attempt was also not desired at that time by the committee which was considering the Qatar file.”
Holtzman added that the call for investigations into the Qatar file was driven by certain people who could not accept the fact that Qatar, an Arab Muslim country was going to host the World Cup 2022. But he said any such investigation will be in favour of Qatar.
He mentioned that the “lynch mob mentality” of The Sunday Times was triggered by racism and hatred against Arabs and Muslims. “This racism, however is not direct, but a move to reflect negative concepts about the Arabs,” he said.
Local Arabic daily Arrayah said Holtzman told the BBC that the Qatar file was presented and managed according to the best standards of impartiality and transparency. Referring to The Sunday Times report that there were thousands of e-mails concerning the Qatar file, he said: “These electronic messages are not money put in an envelop as a bribe and are not an important issue. The whole campaign and attacks are organised by certain persons engaged in the media activities and businesses in Britain.”
Gulf states criticise ‘doubters and haters’
Gulf states rallied behind Qatar following allegations published by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that a senior Qatari soccer official made payments to win the country’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar has vehemently denied the accusations.
Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani of the Gulf Co-operation Council - which includes Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman - attacked what he called a “biased media campaign”.
“The Secretary General affirmed the GCC’s ... complete support in the face of all doubters and haters and everyone who is attempting to lessen (Qatar’s) right to host this historic global sporting event,” the GCC statement said yesterday.
Qatar won its bid through “honest competition,” he said.
The World Cup has never been held in the Middle East before.
Qatar on Saturday defended its campaign and rejected the corruption allegations which it said were timed to coincide with an investigation by FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, into the bidding process for the 2022 World Cup and the one before it in Russia in 2018.
The GCC statement will provide welcome support for Qatar.Last updated:
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