Qatar's civil lawsuit against former FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger has been thrown out ©Getty Images

A civil lawsuit filed by the Qatar Football Association (QFA) against former FIFA Executive Committee Theo Zwanziger looks likely to be dismissed after a court in Düsseldorf ruled that his comments, where he called the country a “cancerous growth on world football”, were covered under freedom of expression.

Zwanziger, head of the German Football Association (DFB) for six years between 2006 and 2012, had made the statement during a television interview on public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk last year.

The German also called for a review into how Qatar won the rights to the 2022 World Cup, a bid process which remains under criminal investigation amid allegations of corruption and bribery.

The judge said Zwanziger’s remarks were "justified from the standpoint of freedom of expression" but he has confirmed he will make a final ruling on the case on April 19 following a full evaluation of the argument presented by officials from the Gulf nation.

The QFA had claimed his comments were slanderous and showed collective disrespect, but the German insisted they were aimed at the scandal-plagued World Cup bid process rather than at the country or the Organising Committee for the event itself.

The Qataris were hoping to ensure Zwanziger does not repeat such sentiments in the future, though the freedom of expression ruling effectively means he will be able to make similar comments again if he chooses.

They were attempting to sue the German for €100,000 (£77,000/$112,000).

“I never wanted to insult a person from Qatar,” he said following the court hearing.

The Düsseldorf judge in the case said Theo Zwanziger's comments were covered under freedom of expression ©Getty Images
The Düsseldorf judge in the case said Theo Zwanziger's comments were covered under freedom of expression ©Getty Images

Qatar was announced as hosts of the 2022 World Cup, with Russia awarded the 2018 competition, in December 2010, and Zwanziger has been a long-time critic of the decision to give the country the tournament.

“I have always said that Qatar was a cancerous growth on world football," Zwanziger said in the Hessischer Rundfunk interview.

"It all started with that decision."

Zwanziger has never been far away from controversy as he is one of three former DFB officials at the centre of tax evasion allegations linked to Germany securing the rights to the 2006 World Cup.

That particular bid process has also come under question following claims a slush fund was set up in order to buy votes, which have been vehemently denied by Franz Beckenbauer, who led the Bid Committee for the tournament.

Zwanziger had claimed back in October that "without a doubt there was a slush fund linked to the German World Cup application”, though these suggestions were dismissed by Wolfgang Niersbach, his replacement as DFB President.