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No solid ground to question Russia, Qatar World Cups – Samoura

sepp blatter - cropped Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter presents Russia as World Cup 2018 hosts (source: Getty Images)

There are “no solid grounds” to question the awarding of the World Cups to Russia and Qatar in light of the full publication of the ‘Garcia Report’, FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura has said.

The full version of the former New York attorney’s investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments was published by FIFA on Tuesday, after German publication Bild had managed to obtain a leaked copy.

Garcia had called the previously published short version of his report “incomplete and erroneous” but the full document has largely strengthened Russia and Qatar’s hopes of hosting the respective tournaments after it concluded that there were no grounds for the original vote to be annulled.

Although she was not secretary general when the voting for the World Cups took place, Samoura has welcomed the publication of the report and its findings.

“I would like to say that we welcome the decision taken by the chairs of the adjudicatory and investigatory chamber to publish the ‘Garcia Report’ for the sake of transparency. I cannot pronounce on behalf of FIFA because everything that concerns people who have been indicted or named in the investigation is only for the ethics committee.

“The decision to stage the World Cup in Russia and Qatar was taken by the previous management [of FIFA]. And as was put in the report of Mr. Garcia, there is no solid ground to really question the [awarding] of the World Cup to Russia and Qatar.”

Samoura took up her role with FIFA in June 2016 after Jerome Valcke was sacked and later given a 10-year footballing ban for his alleged involvement in a scheme to profit from World Cup ticket sales. Valcke is appealing against the ruling and denies any wrongdoing.

The former United Nations official went on to stress that FIFA has no concerns over a sponsorship deal for the 2022 finals with Qatar Airways.

Patrick Nally, who helped to lay the foundations for FIFA’s strong commercial sector during the 1970s, told the Irish Times that a shortfall on promised sponsorship revenue for the World Cups was possible due to some partners withdrawing and others with strong political ties signing deals.

The diplomatic dispute involving Qatar and other Gulf states has also hit Qatar Airways hard, with the airline having to reroute flights through countries that have denied them airspace.

But Samoura said: “We have been working closely with the Local Organising Committee and we haven’t had any big real doubt that Qatar Airways will be able to fulfil its commitment to FIFA and sponsoring this World Cup.”

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