Russia and Qatar may be stripped of their rights to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups respectively if any evidence of bribery is discovered, a senior FIFA official has said. Domenico Scala, the chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, told Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung: “Should there be evidence that the awards to Qatar and Russia came only because of bought votes, then the awards could be cancelled.”
He added: “Until today, the respective evidence has not been provided.”Both Russia and Qatar have denied foul play in their bidding processes. Scala’s comments come even as football-governing body FIFA is embroiled in a massive corruption scandal with seven senior officials arrested last month in Switzerland on US charges.
In total, the United States Department of Justice has charged 14 people for allegedly accepting bribes estimated at more than $150 million over a two-year period. Swiss authorities and the FBI are also investigating how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were allocated.
Sepp Blatter, who was re-elected as FIFA’s president last month, also resigned four days later amid the corruption allegations. However, in a statement last week, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy defended its position, saying: “The recent events at FIFA will not impact on our preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar has faced criticism from the moment we won the right to bring this tournament to the Middle East for the first time. We remain committed to using the World Cup as a platform to break down prejudice and misconceptions, while leaving a lasting legacy for our country and the rest of the region.”
This article by Aarti Nagraj originally appeared in Gulf Business