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Thursday 8 December 2016

FIFA postpones announcement of bidding process for 2026 World Cup

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke walks away after attending a news conference in the southern city of Samara, Russia, June 10, 2015
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke walks away after attending a news conference in the southern city of Samara, Russia, June 10, 2015

FIFA has postponed the announcement of the the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup due to the corruption crisis that has engulfed the organisation.

The world governing body has also confirmed a decision on the date of the congress to elect Sepp Blatter's successor as president will be made in July. December 16 is the favourite option, while FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has defended his involvement in a 10million US dollar (£6.5million) payment from South Africa to Jack Warner via FIFA's executive office.

Blatter announced he would resign last Tuesday - four days after he was re-elected for a fifth term - following corruption charges against FIFA officials that caused the biggest crisis in the world governing body's history.

FIFA had been due to reveal details of the 2026 World Cup bidding process this week, building up to a vote at the 2017 Congress in Kuala Lumpur but has not postponed that announcement.

The organisation also said an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee will take place in July to decide on the date of a Congress to hold the presidential election.

A FIFA spokesperson said: "It requires an extraordinary executive committee to confirm a date and agenda for the extraordinary elective Congress. This extraordinary executive committee will convene in July, the precise date to be confirmed this week. There are currently various date options for discussion at this extraordinary executive committee meeting."

Blatter, 79, confirmed his departure at a hastily-arranged press conference in Zurich and said he would stay as president until the election which is due to be held between December and March, and it is understood mid-December is viewed as a likely option.

Valcke attended a Russia 2018 World Cup organising committee board meeting in Samara, in Russia's Volga region, where he confirmed details on the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup - which was due to be announced this week - had been postponed.

He also defended FIFA's handling of the 10million US dollar payment to a Caribbean Football Union account controlled by Warner, the former FIFA vice-president whose deputy Chuck Blazer has pleaded guilty in court of taking some of the money as a bribe to vote for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

The payment followed a 2008 letter from the South African Football Association (SAFA) to Valcke asking for the money to be deducted for the World Cup budget and sent as a legacy programme to be administered by Warner.

Valcke told a news conference in Samara: "It was not FIFA's money... it was a request from official South African authorities and SAFA. As long as it is in line with rules we do it.

"I don't understand what's the problem and why I am such a target in this question.

"You [the media] have decided that after Blatter I am the head to be cut, fine, but don't say it is because of this 10million dollars."

It was revealed on Tuesday that the 10million dollars never appeared in the financial statements of either the CFU or the CONCACAF federation.

Valcke said preparations for the World Cup and the preliminary draw in St Petersburg on July 25 were "well under way and on schedule".

Russia 2018 local organising committee chairman Vitaly Mutko added: "There's no doubt all the events of 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will go through at top level."

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