|Members of Qatar's royal family and bid committee embrace duirng the World Cup announcement [EPA]
Qatar's World Cup committee have launched their strongest rebuttal yet to allegations over their successful bid for the 2022 tournament – labelling claims against them as "worthless and insulting".
A British parliamentary inquiry into England's failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup was told this month that there was evidence from The Sunday Times newspaper that Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast were paid by Qatar.
On Monday the bid team released a 1,700-word statement through the Qatar Football Association, attacking the newspaper for making "false claims" public and saying they welcomed an investigation.
They also said that a "whistleblower" due to be interviewed by FIFA was a disgruntled former employee "with an axe to grind."
"All the allegations are hearsay and supposition. In addition, the allegations are wholly unsupported by any documentary material whatsoever"
Qatar 2022 statement
"The Bid Committee welcomes a thorough investigation into the allegations made against it," the Qatar 2022 statement said.
"However, such an investigation must surely only be carried out by a properly constituted body with due authority and independence where our side of the story can be heard.
"It is wholly inappropriate for any examination of the bid committee's affairs to be based on unsubstantiated hearsay and inaccurate journalism."
The statement called into question the motives of the Sunday Times journalists, whose evidence was only able to be made public because of parliamentary privilege, meaning that potentially libellous or defamatory allegations can be made by legislators without fear of prosecution as part of their duties.
The newspaper's submission to the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) select committee inquiry admitted that there was no proof of the allegations into corruption.
"All the allegations are hearsay and supposition. In addition, the allegations are wholly unsupported by any documentary material whatsoever," the Qatar statement went on to say.
"For The Sunday Times to suggest that 'nobody of sound mind could be persuaded the support for Qatar' was based purely on merit, because Qatar is a 'small desert state with a minuscule population, no football traditions and hostile summer temperatures' is not only insulting, but exemplifies the sustained and unbalanced reporting that the Bid Committee has been subjected to by that newspaper."
|Hassan al-Thawadi was the CEO of the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid [GALLO/GETTY]
Qatar 2022 also said it was "unfortunate" that the newspaper team had included evidence in the memorandum to the inquiry that it would not have been confident publishing itself.
And they said it was "distressing" and "incomprehensible" for Qatar's reputation to be tarnished in the British parliament.
"The publication of the Memorandum on the website of the CMS Select Committee has caused enormous and wholly unjustified potential damage to the Bid Committee and the individuals on it," the statement said.
"The aim of the Bid Committee has always been to show that the Middle East is a realistic option for staging the FIFA World Cup and it has worked extremely hard to bring the tournament to the Middle East for the first time.
"This is something of which the Bid Committee and the people of Qatar are extremely proud.
"To have this achievement tarnished by completely unsubstantiated and false allegations and for those allegations to be propounded by the Parliament of the United Kingdom is something we find distressing, insulting and incomprehensible."
Qatar won the right to host World Cup 2022 in December last year, beating bids from the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
Source: Al Jazeera