FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the Arab world deserves to stage a World Cup, boosting Qatar's bid to host the tournament in 2022.
Blatter, in Doha to meet with Qatar's football officials, praised the bid's infrastructure on Saturday and said the government's successful hosting of the 2006 Asian Games showed it was capable of organizing big international events.
"The Arab world would deserve to have a World Cup and I say it publicly because 22 countries haven't had any access to organize the World Cup," Blatter said. "Let's us see and let us hope when the decision for 2022 will be taken in December."
Blatter was careful not to openly endorse the Qatar bid, saying there was a long way to go before the hosts for 2018 and 2022 were announced in December.
Along with South Korea, Qatar has applied only for the 2022 tournament. There are seven bids for either the 2018 or 2022 event. They are from Australia, Japan, United States, England, Russia and joint proposals from Spain and Portugal and Belgium and the Netherlands.
Indonesia and Mexico had earlier withdrawn their bids.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the son of the emir, has said holding the tournament in the Middle East would improve relations between the West and Arab world.
Doha has already begun its promotion, erecting huge billboards and hoisting flags along most roads encouraging support for the bid. There is even a shop in an upscale shopping center selling 2022 shirts, backpacks and water bottles. Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has even been announced as an ambassador for Qatar's bid.
The small but wealthy Gulf nation has used sport to try to boost its international profile, staging the Asian Games and becoming a stop for several major tennis tournaments. Qatar will host the 2011 Asian Cup football tournament.
Qatar's searing heat may prove to be one setback, and it will be at its worst when the World Cup is usually played.
Last year, neighboring United Arab Emirates refused a visa for Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer for a women's tournament. The UAE later allowed an Israeli to play in a men's tournament, but FIFA would want to ensure regional politics doesn't spill over into sport should Qatar's bid be successful.