The general secretary of soccer governing body FIFA declined to comment here Wednesday on charges by France Football magazine that Qatar paid bribes for the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

"If there is something that has to be investigated, the FIFA Ethics Committee is totally independent and can open an investigation," Jerome Valcke said during a press conference in Rio de Janeiro to outline plans for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

"It's not for me to comment on the content of the France Football article," the FIFA No. 2 said.

While acknowledging that he read the article, Valcke said he did not discuss the matter with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

The magazine's 20-page piece suggested that the heads of the Argentine, Paraguayan and Brazilian soccer federations - Julio Grondona, Nicolas Leoz and Ricardo Teixeira, respectively - were on the receiving end of Qatari largesse.

The president of FC Barcelona, Sandro Rosell, may also have influenced the decision to award the 2022 tournament to the gas-rich Gulf emirate, according to the article, titled "Qatargate."

The other finalist to host the 2022 World Cup was the United States, which lost out to Qatar 14-8 in the FIFA Executive Committee's December 2010 vote on the selection. EFE