Zidane insists he backed Qatari bid 'to benefit sport'
Zinedine Zidane insists his decision to back Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid was motivated by a pledge to help football spread its roots in the Middle East, rather than the promise of money.
In an interview with L'Equipe, the former France star who inspired his country to lifting the 1998 World Cup denied suggestions he received huge sums of money to promote the bid.
"After studying Qatar's project, I wanted to do it and I will tell you why," Zidane said. "But first off all I want to touch upon something: money. Ten, 11, 12, 13 million euros was mentioned. I will say it clearly: that's a load of rubbish. It wasn't even a third of these sums."
Qatar surprised many observers when it beat competition from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan to host the prestigious Fifa tournament. Zidane acknowledges that he did get paid but says he did not benefit personally.
"It is a lot of money. But this money is distributed by the Zidane foundation [for charity]," he said. "I didn't do it for money. When I stopped playing football [in 2006], Qatar approached me and wanted me to play there. [I was offered] a blank cheque. [But] I didn't want to go and play in Qatar." However, Zidane said he gave his word to help in the future. "I said to these people from Qatar: 'One day I hope I can help you in a project that's beneficial for the future of sport, football in particular'," he said.
"For example, the redistribution of stadiums to developing countries. People will tell me 'Qatar is tiny' but through Qatar it's the whole of the Middle East that's concerned."
Qatar's bid secured the backing of Zidane, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, former Netherlands defender Ronald de Boer and Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola.
Latest in Sport
New day (slowly) rising – As Brasileirão gets underway, Brazilian football stumbles, rather than leaps into the future
The average Serie A crowd last year was 13,000 - comparable to Australia’s A-League.
by James Young
24 May 2013 04:31 PM
Monaco is a street circuit where driver ability is more important than anywhere else and if we take ...
by Gareth Purnell
24 May 2013 02:00 AM
Three weeks ago as I drove off the Eurostar, I remember thinking what a very long time it was until ...
by Martin Ayres
23 May 2013 05:29 PM
'Too expensive and too corporate' – ITV presenter Adrian Chiles says of English football as he praises the German Bundesliga ahead of Bayern Munich facing Borussia Dortmund
Why Manchester City were willing to fork out $500m on stake in MLS
Champions League final: Biggest German invasion since the fifth century as Borussia Dortmund face Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich: 50 things you should know about the Champions League final
Champions League Final: Can Jürgen Klopp and Borussia Dortmund stop the Bayern Munich machine?
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.