Qatari officials have revealed they are suing former FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger after the German described the country as a “cancerous growth on world football”.
Zwanziger, who led the German Football Association (DFB) for six years between 2006 and 2012, has been fiercely critical of the Gulf nation winning the rights to stage the 2022 World Cup, a process which remains under criminal investigation amid allegations of corruption and bribery.
He made the comments during a television interview on public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk last year, during which he also called for a review into how Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2022.
“I have always said that Qatar was a cancerous growth on world football,” Zwanziger said.
“It all started with that decision.”
The Qataris are hopeful of ensuring Zwanziger doesn’t repeat such sentiments in the future, while the German’s defence centres on the fact that he wasn’t targeting the comment at the Organising Committee or the country, but rather at FIFA’s controversial decision to give them the rights to the competition.
The Qatar Football Association has labelled Zwanziger’s words as slanderous.
The German lawyer had been working with the nation in their preparations for the event in six years‘ time as he was appointed to liaise with the authorities over the rights of welfare workers.
The issue of welfare has been a constant thorn in the side of organisers, who have faced regular allegations of ignoring the issue.
Last month, Qatar 2022 and FIFA were accused of doing too little to address “rampant migrant labour abuse” by Amnesty International.
It followed the publication of a report which showed high death toll figures among migrant workers, which claimed as many as 1,200 may have died since 2010.
Qatar was announced as hosts of the 2022 World Cup, with Russia awarded the 2018 competition, back in December 2010.
FIFA Presidential candidate Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, also the President of the Asian Football Confederation, recently suggested he would re-open the bid process for both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups “if serious wrongful conduct is proven by a court of law”, should he win the upcoming election at the Extraordinary Elective Congress in Zurich onFebruary 26.
Zwanziger also claimed back in October that “without a doubt there was a slush fund linked to the German World Cup application” after his native country was given the rights to the 2006 tournament.
His replacement as DFB President, Wolfgang Niersbach, dismissed the accusations that the alleged fund was set up to buy the votes of four Asian representatives on the FIFA Executive Committee.
- By Liam Morgan Republished with permission insidethegames.biz