Qatar 2022 organizers say French police yet to contact them

Sports

Former Brazilian soccer player Cafu, center, poses for a photo with Hassan Al Thawadi, left, Chairman of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, and Nasser Al-Khater, right, deputy-secretary general of the Qatar 2022 organizing committee, during a event where Cafu was presented as an Ambassador for the World Cup 2022, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, June 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Qatar organizers of the 2022 World Cup say they have not been contacted by French authorities working on the investigation that led to the recent questioning of Michel Platini.

World Cup organizing committee chairman Hassan Al-Thawadi said on Friday there was no reason for concern related to the Platini investigation as all other previous probes into the 2022 World Cup have cleared Qatar of wrongdoing.

“We have been investigated, we have been looked into,” Al-Thawadi said. “The (Michael) Garcia investigation was a very thorough investigation, they looked into every aspect of our bid. And we were exonerated in the end.”

Organizers also said that although alcohol is not as available in Qatar as in other countries, anyone “looking for a drink” during the World Cup will “surely find it.” Organizing committee CEO Nasser Al Khater said “alcohol will be available in designated areas” during the tournament in Qatar.

Al Khater and Al-Thawadi spoke in Brazil during the Copa America, in which Qatar is playing as a guest for the first time. In an event in Sao Paulo, organizers unveiled former Brazil player Cafu as a World Cup ambassador.

“I cannot give you any more comments because there is an investigation going on, other than saying that we have not been contacted by the French authorities,” said Al-Thawadi, who noted that Platini was questioned not only about Qatar 2022.

“What I read is that it was in relation to many issues, one of them was Qatar 2022. (It was also about) Russia 2018, Euro 2016 and many other related matters and, of course, ultimately he was let go. Michel has always been very open, very transparent.”

Al Khater said “it’s better to stay silent” until the investigation is finished.

“For the past 10 years Qatar has always been in the spotlight,” he said. “We are very happy that all the allegations that have ever been thrown at us have always been found to be baseless. We are going ahead as planned, we are confident.”

Platini was taken into custody on Tuesday to answer questions from French police investigating whether corruption played a role in the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Platini, who denied wrongdoing, was released from custody without charge in the early hours of Wednesday, saying he found the experience painful given “everything I’ve done” in the sport.

As head of UEFA, Platini was Europe’s top representative on the FIFA committee that picked Qatar as host in 2010.

Al Khater reiterated that fans visiting Qatar will be allowed to drink alcohol in “designated areas.”

“Alcohol is legal and available in Qatar. It’s not as available as in many other countries around the world, it’s not something that is part of our culture, but hospitality is,” he said. “We haven’t finalized all the plans yet, but what we can say to fans is whoever is going to be looking for a drink in the World Cup will surely find it.”

Al Khater also said “we are going to make sure this is an accessible World Cup” in terms of lodging and prices of plane tickets.

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