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Fifa crisis won't obstruct Qatar's World Cup plans

By Martyn Zeigler

Qatar World Cup organisers insist the crisis at Fifa will not affect their preparations for the tournament in 2022.

Fresh reports have stated that the FBI are including the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the scope of their wider investigations into Fifa, and that Sepp Blatter - who announced on Tuesday he is to step down as Fifa President days after winning re-election - is also being investigated.

The US justice department has indicted 18 people to date on corruption charges, but the charges are unrelated to the two tournaments.

A statement from Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy said: "The recent events at Fifa will not impact on our preparations for the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

"With five stadiums currently under construction we are ahead of schedule to deliver on our promises.

"Qatar has faced criticism from the moment we won the right to bring this tournament to the Middle East for the first time. We remain committed to using the World Cup as a platform to break down prejudice and misconceptions, while leaving a lasting legacy for our country and the rest of the region."

Blatter's shock announcement he is to step down as Fifa President continued to reverberate throughout football as South Africa's sports minister denied the country had paid World Cup bribes.

It follows the disclosure that a $10m payment was made via Fifa's executive office to disgraced Fifa Vice-President Jack Warner, connected to the 2010 World Cup.

The South African Football Association sent a letter in 2008 to Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke saying the money should be administered directly by Warner, who is currently on bail in Trinidad pending extradition to the United States.

South Africa's sports minister Fikile Mbalula said the money - described as a bribe to secure the World Cup in 2010 for South Africa by a US justice department indictment - was an agreed upon contribution to support the "African diaspora" in the Caribbean.

Mbalula told a news conference: "The money was to support other projects in the diaspora. What we are saying is we did not bribe.

"We don't know what compromised individuals say when they are compromised."

Mbalula added that the South African government did not know what had happened to the $10m.

He said: "We don't know. We can't account for it. The fact that later they turned gangsters, that is not our problem. We were not sniffer dogs to check everybody's legitimacy."

Valcke has also protested his innocence.

He said: "I have nothing to blame myself for and I certainly do not feel guilty at all so I do not even have to justify my innocence."

Blatter's announcement came just four days after he was re-elected for a fifth term and follows corruption charges against Fifa officials that caused the biggest crisis in the world governing body's history.

A new election is scheduled to take place between December and March, and Blatter is expected to remain in his position until that time.

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