herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Warning for Qatar and Russia if bribery evidence is found

Sepp Blatter has won a fifth term as Fifa president (AP)
Sepp Blatter has won a fifth term as Fifa president (AP)

Russia and Qatar could be stripped of their World Cup hosting rights if evidence emerges of bribery in the bidding process, the independent chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee has said.

The FBI's investigation of bribery and corruption at FIFA is now to include scrutiny of how soccer's governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar.

Domenico Scala told Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung that the two countries could lose the hosting rights should evidence emerge of bribery in the bidding process.

INVALIDATED

"If evidence should emerge that the awards to Qatar and Russia only came about thanks to bought votes, then the awards could be invalidated," Scala said. "This evidence has not yet been brought forth."

Russia and Qatar have previously denied wrongdoing in the conduct of their bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, which were not the subject of charges announced by US prosecutors last week against FIFA officials.

Scala had made similar comments in 2013 but events over the last two weeks, which included a dawn police raid in Zurich and the arrests of several FIFA officials on US charges, have added urgency to his remarks.

Sepp Blatter unexpectedly announced last week he was resigning, just four days after securing a fifth term as FIFA president and shortly before it emerged that he too was under investigation by US law enforcement.

SEPARATE

In a separate interview with Swiss paper Sonntags Blick, Scala also floated the idea of term limits for the FIFA presidency.

"If a FIFA president does two or three cycles that is enough," Scala is quoted as saying.

It has also been claimed in media reports published at the weekend that Morocco actually won the ballot to host the 2010 World Cup before votes were "deliberately miscounted" and it was awarded to South Africa.

Secret video tapes, allegedly first shown to the governing body five years ago, reportedly show the then-FIFA executive committee member Ismail Bhamjee making the claims to an undercover reporter.

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