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Times journalists deny claims Qatar 'Dream League' story is a hoax

It’s been suggested that the newspaper was fooled by a spoof article on website Les Cahiers du Football

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, right, and Qatar Football Association (QFA) President Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed al-Thani exchange documents (file pic).
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, right, and Qatar Football Association (QFA) President Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Bin Ahmed al-Thani exchange documents (file pic).

JOURNALIST OLIVER KAY has denied suggestions he was the subject of a hoax, after he exclusively reported in The Times on apparent plans by Qatar to introduce a ‘Dream Football League’ to rival the prestigious Champions League.

After the story was published today, Eurosport claimed to investigated the matter further, reporting that it “quickly became apparent that the story’s inspiration appeared to lie in a spoof French article by website Les Cahiers du Football, with almost all the details in The Times found within their story of March 10″.

The Qatar Football Association also issued a statement, which read: “With regard to the story published in today’s edition of The Times newspaper concerning a ‘Dreams Football League,’ the Qatar Football Association and other Qatari football entities can categorically confirm that we have no involvement in any such initiative and has heard nothing to suggest such a concept is genuine.”

Speaking to Reuters in reaction to suggestions that his story was untrue, Kay said: “I’ve been amused by the speculation about the source of this story. I can guarantee you 100 percent, 1,000 percent, 175 million percent, that my story had nothing to do with any website, spoof or otherwise.”

Football Editor of The Times, Tony Evans, added:

“As far as we are concerned the story is true and we stand by it. Oliver Kay is an exceptionally good journalist who is unlikely to have fallen for a hoax story on a spoof website.

“He obtained the information after speaking to powerful people in football and after doing his groundwork. He has been working on it for quite a while and there is no reason to doubt he will be fully vindicated.”

According to The Times’ story, four Premier League clubs would be part of 16 permanent sides in the league, with eight other global clubs to be invited.

If the plans, allegedly backed by the Qatari royal family, were to go ahead, they would seriously threaten the Champions League due to the huge financial rewards.

The report suggested that the DFL would be prepared to offer elite clubs 200 million euros per two-year cycle, dwarfing the 59.9 million euros awarded to Chelsea for winning Europe’s elite club competition last season.

It also was reported that organisers are expected to release further plans in April, as Qatar continue to enjoy a growing influence in the game.

Additional reporting by Omnisport

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