Doha plans to spend at least $200 bln on the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Russian Ambassador to Qatar Nurmakhmad Kholov told TASS.
"At least $200 bln will be spent on the 2022 FIFA World Cup," he said. "They want to show themselves to the best advantage while hosting the 2022 World Cup, so the primary focus and resources will be on the tournament."
After Russia won the right to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 2009, it estimated the cost of hosting the tournament at about $10 bln. However, later on the overall cost of hosting the World Cup grew.
Qatar's successful, controversy-plagued bid to host the 2022 World Cup has been hit by further allegations that they used a secret "black operations" propaganda campaign to undermine rival bids in violation of FIFA rules, according to The Sunday Times.
The newspaper -- which also made allegations in 2014 about Qatar buying the vote but of which they were subsequently cleared after a two-year long FIFA investigation led by American lawyer Michael Garcia -- says emails leaked to them by a whistleblower from the bid team show they paid a US-based office of a public relations firm as well as former CIA agents to disseminate "fake propaganda" concerning main rivals Australia and the United States during their campaign to host the 2022 competition.
Qatar, to general surprise, beat the Australian and US bids as well as South Korea and Japan to the right to host the quadrennial football showpiece. Russia were awarded the 2018 edition at the same time, seeing off, amongst others, England.
The gas-rich Gulf state's strategy was to recruit influential individuals in order to attack bids in their respective countries, creating the impression there was "zero support" to host the World Cup among the population, the paper said.
One of the core criteria considered by FIFA is said to be that the bids should have a strong backing from domestic populations.
Bidders are also prohibited from making "any written or oral statement of any kind, whether adverse or otherwise, about the bids or candidatures of any other member association" under FIFA guidelines.
- 'Rejects each and every allegation' -
But one of the leaked emails the Times claims to have obtained was sent to Qatar's deputy bid leader Ali al-Thawadi, and allegedly shows the state was aware of plots to spread "poison" against other bidders in the running before Qatar won the right to host the World Cup in December 2010.
Such actions went as far as planning a resolution for US congress on the "harmful" effects of the American World Cup proposition during the week of the vote, as well as approaching and paying a US professor $9,000 (7,723 euros, £6,865) to compose a report on the economic burden the competition would present.
Qatar issued a point blank denial.
In a statement Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy said it "rejects each and every allegation put forward by the Sunday Times".
"We have been thoroughly investigated and have been forthcoming with all information related to our bid, including the official investigation led by US attorney Michael Garcia," it said.
"We have strictly adhered to all FIFA's rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 World Cup bidding process."
FIFA, which has just emerged from what was widely regarded as a successful hosting of the World Cup by Russia, for its part said in a statement that "a thorough investigation was conducted by Michael Garcia and his conclusions are available in the report".
QATAR’S WORLD CUP bid team has strongly denied allegations it conducted a smear campaign to increase their chances of hosting the 2022 tournament.
A Sunday Times investigation suggested rivals who were also bidding to host the finals were sabotaged by Qatar.
The newspaper claims to have seen leaked documents showing that fake propaganda around bids from the United States and Australia was disseminated by former CIA agents and a public relations firm on behalf of Qatar.
Any such campaign would be in breach of FIFA regulations, but Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy has hit out at the allegations and insisted it has fully complied with world football’s governing body.
“The Supreme Committee rejects each and every allegation put forward by the Sunday Times,” said a statement.
“We have been thoroughly investigated and have been forthcoming with all information related to our bid, including the official investigation led by US attorney Michael Garcia.
“We have strictly adhered to all FIFA’s rules and regulations for the 2018-2022 World Cup bidding process.”
Qatar’s World Cup preparations have been mired in controversy, with concerns raised about allegations of corruption and soaring temperatures in its summer months, while Amnesty International has expressed fears over the treatment of migrant workers in the country.
The tournament has since been moved to November and December 2022 to avoid the problems of the searing heat, although this will have repercussions for the European football season.
The Supreme Committee introduced official guidelines on workers’ welfare standards, which was updated this year following consultations with Amnesty and other human rights groups.
After being beaten by Qatar in the bidding process for the 2022 tournament, the United States was subsequently awarded the rights to hold the World Cup in 2026, along with neighbours Canada and Mexico.
Qatar has not held talks with any other countries to share football matches at the 2022 World Cup, a senior tournament organiser in Doha said on Wednesday.
Despite coming under pressure from FIFA president Gianni Infantino to expand the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams — which could mean some matches being played elsewhere in West Asia — Nasser al-Khater said no such negotiations had taken place.
"We haven't had any discussions of sharing," said the assistant secretary general of Qatar's World Cup organising body, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.
Governing body FIFA is currently carrying out a feasibility study to see if the first World Cup in the region could be expanded.
Infantino has said that if any tournament enlargement is agreed, it would likely mean matches being played in neighbouring countries, as it would increase the total number of tournament games from 64 to 80.
He has even suggested that could help Middle East peace, at a time when Qatar is at the centre of the worst Gulf diplomatic crisis in years.
Gianni Infantino has confirmed that FIFA will definitely decide in March whether the 2022 World Cup in Qatar can be expanded to 48 teams, though the likelihood of the concept being brought forward from the 2026 tournament appears to be receding.
Although FIFA is intent on 48-team future editions of the World Cup from 2026, a decision on Qatar is still in the balance,
“We’ll decide in March,” Infantino said Sunday on French TV show Telefoot referring to the FIFA Council meeting in Miami. “We’ve already decided that future editions should feature 48 teams, we all think it’s a good idea.”
Exceptionally, the Qatar World Cup is being held in winter four years from now because of the soaring summer temperatures and Infantino admitted expansion would be difficult.
“It’s not easy because it will be played over 28 days, instead of 31 for a normal World Cup.”