Russia and Qatar could lose the 2018 and 2022 World Cups if irregularities are proven in them being awarded the hosting rights, a FIFA official told a Swiss newspaper published on Sunday.
“If evidence exists that Qatar and Russia received the (World Cup) awards only thanks to bribes, then the awards could be annulled,” head of FIFA’s auditing and compliance committee Domenico Scala told the Sonntagszeitung weekly.
He stressed though that “this evidence has not been provided” so far. His comments are the first by a senior FIFA official to even open up the possibility of either Russia or Qatar not hosting the football showpiece in the wake of the recent scandals that have engulfed football’s world governing body.
The scandal, which also involves a Swiss probe into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, has led to the resignation of long serving FIFA president Sepp Blatter last week, just four days after his re-election for a fifth successive term.
On Thursday, Britain said it was ready to step in and hold the 2022 World Cup if it was taken away from Qatar, whose hosting has consistently been dogged by controversy.
Late last month, FIFA ruled out a revote for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, insisting the hosts would not change.
Meanwhile, a 2007 email shows Blatter and then-South African President Thabo Mbeki held “discussions” over $10 million that ultimately went to allegedly corrupt soccer executives as payback for supporting the country’s World Cup bid, a newspaper claimed.
South Africa’s Sunday Times reported that the email from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke to the South African government asks when the $10 million will be transferred.
The newspaper said that in the email, which was not published, Valcke wrote that the $10 million was “based on discussions between FIFA and the South African government, and also between our President (Blatter) and President Thabo Mbeki.”
American investigators alleged in their indictment into corruption in world soccer that the $10 million went to Jack Warner, who is currently under arrest, as payback for him and two other senior FIFA executives voting for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.
It was wired from FIFA to accounts controlled by Warner in three payments in early 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
FIFA and the South African government have said it was money given legitimately by South Africa through FIFA to help soccer development in Warner’s Caribbean region. Mbeki’s office denied any involvement in bribes in a statement when the FIFA corruption scandal broke. A former Egyptian minister of youth and sports, Aley Eddine Helal, has revealed that Warner asked for money in 2004.
“Warner was the one who approached us from FIFA. He said he could guarantee us seven votes... He asked for one million dollars for each vote,” Helal claimed.
Egypt was a candidate to host the 2010 World Cup, but it received no votes in the 2004 FIFA ballot. South Africa was chosen to host the tournament.
“We didn’t pay any bribes. That was one of the reasons why we didn’t get any votes,” Youssef el—Dahshori, who was Egyptian Football Association president at the time, said.