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Mediator Qatar mired in World Cup controversy

Qatar declares its 'utmost integrity' during bidding for 2022 World Cup, while Obama thanks government for mediation in prisoner exchange
Bin Hammam, accused of bribery, had 'no role' in 2022 bidding (AFP)

Qatar has denied in the strongest terms any irregularities surrounding its selection as host for the 2022 World Cup, saying it will defend its reputation against rumours to the contrary.

Qatar’s Football Association released a statement in reply to allegations printed in the Sunday Times on 1 June.

QFA refuted the allegations, declaring that it had maintained the utmost integrity and moral standards during the bidding to host the Football World Cup in 2022.

According to the association, Mohamed Bin Hammam, charged with submitting bribes of up to $5m in total, had no official or unofficial role in the 2022 committee.

Lawyers from the association are looking into the issue.

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FIFA chief investigator Michael Garcia will meet with organisers of the 2022 World Cup on Monday, reports the BBC.

As Qatar reels from controversy surrounding its selection as the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup, it continues its work as a regional and international mediator.

President Obama on Saturday expressed his gratitude to Qatar’s government for their help with securing the exchange of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl, held by the Taliban for five years, in exchange for five Afghans held in Guantanamo Bay.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister, Khalid bin Mohammed al-Atiya, said that Qatar had taken a role as mediator for “humanitarian” reasons, in a press conference on 1 June after Obama met with Bergdahl’s parents at the White House in Washington.

“When there is a humanitarian issue, the emir of Qatar does not hesitate. This is what happened with the American hostage and the five detainees from the Taliban.”

Following their release the five men, one of whom has been held at the American prison in Cuba since early 2002, were transferred to Qatar.

The men will be subject to a one-year ban on any travel outside the country, reports Reuters.

The Diplomatic Institute of Qatar’s Foreign Ministry is holding a joint workshop with Harvard University in Doha entitled “Negotiation Skills” on 2 June.

In October 2013 Atiya announced that Qatar had facilitated a successful three-way mediation between Lebanon, Turkey and Syria.

Turkey and Lebanon both publicly thanked Qatar after the deal, which saw two Turkish pilots held in Lebanon arrive home and nine Lebanese pilgrims freed after being abducted by Syrian rebels.

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