ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke denied on Monday suggesting Qatar had “bought” the rights to stage the 2022 World Cup finals, saying merely that the Gulf nation’s financial muscle had helped them lobby support.
Referring to an email leaked by FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, he explained: “What I wanted to say is that the winning bid used their financial strength to lobby for support.”
“They were a candidate with a very important budget and have used it to heavily promote their bid all around the world in a very efficient manner,” Valcke explained in the statement released by FIFA.
”I have at no time made, or was intending to make, any reference to any purchase of votes or similar unethical behavior.
“I would also like to clarify that there is, as I said yesterday, no investigation open at FIFA regarding the 2022 FIFA World Cup host election.”
Valcke also denied claims made by Warner and his fellow executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam that he had had any influence on the ethics committee which suspended them from all football-related activity until at least July on Sunday.
“It is fully incorrect -- and quite disappointing -- to say that I have an influence on the FIFA ethics committee and its proceedings,” he said.
FIFA’s ethics committee decided on Sunday there was a case to answer by Warner and Bin Hammam over allegations that the Qatari paid Caribbean delegates $40,000 each to vote for him in the election.
Bin Hammam announced on Monday he would appeal against his provisional suspension while dismissing claims that Qatar had bought the World Cup.
The Qatar bid also rejected the cash-for-votes claim.
“Qatar 2022 categorically deny any wrong-doing in connection with their winning bid,” a statement said.
Editing by Kevin Fylan