Website says report of plot to strip Qatar of World Cup was 'fake'
The snow-covered landscape is reflected in a logo in front of FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, January 10, 2017. Photograph: (Reuters)
A story claiming that six Arab nations had written to FIFA demanding that Qatar be stripped of the World Cup in 2022 was published on what appeared to be a fake version of a Swiss news website, the site's co-founder said on Sunday.
The report, carried on a website resembling The Local, included quotes purporting to be from FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Reuters published stories based on the report, which were subsequently withdrawn.
The fake story on The Local said that the six countries, which last month cut ties with Qatar, had collectively written to world soccer's governing body asking it to remove Qatar as hosts under Article 85 of the FIFA Code, which allows for such action in the case of emergency.
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"The Local's staff neither wrote, published nor removed the article in question and The Local can therefore not vouch for any of the claims made," co-founder James Savage said in a statement on Sunday.
"Our investigation so far indicates the article appeared on a fake site designed to look like The Local, and never appeared on The Local's own site."
The Local publishes in English and operates nine news sites across Europe.