Allegations that Fifa ignored its own report which identified Qatar as a “high risk” target for terrorist attacks in 2022 have been taken “out of context”, according to world football’s governing body.
The most recent in a series of damaging stories published in the Sunday Times newspaper relating to the 2022 vote alleges that Fifa’s executive committee backed the Gulf state to host the tournament in spite of an explicit warning that the safety of supporters, players and coaches might be under threat from a “major incident”.
But Fifa insists the report is misleading and that the threat of a terrorist attack is present for all host countries.
“The [risk assessment] report was done for all the bid nations,” Fifa’s head of media Delia Fischer told reporters during a press briefing at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium. “The way the Sunday Times have put it is out of context. All big cities or anywhere you have a lot of people and athletes gathered together has a potential risk [of a terrorist attack].”
These latest allegations come at a time when both Fifa and president Sepp Blatter are facing renewed questioning over accusations of impropriety regarding Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 tournament.
Blatter’s reaction to the reports saw him brand the British media “racist” for which he has been widely condemned and earlier this week the Swiss faced calls from several high-ranking Uefa delegates to step down.