Russia and Qatar could still lose the hosting rights of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups if evidence of bribery and malpractice are brought forward, said the independent chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee Domenico Scala. "If evidence should emerge that the awards to Qatar and Russia only came about thanks to bought votes then the awards could be invalidated", said Mr. Scala during an interview with Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung. He added that "such evidence has not yet been brought forward" and Russia and Qatar are still denying any transgression during the bidding and awarding process of the two tournaments.

Domenico Scala made similar warnings in 2013 but, this time, the possibility of such evidence being brought forward seems more likely due to the ongoing investigation, led by US authorities, that has already resulted in the arrest of several FIFA senior officials, including two vice-presidents, in a hotel in Zurich, last month. They have since been charged with 47 counts of corruption, racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering spanning over two decades. In the same day, Swiss authorities announced their own investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups hosting rights, ultimately awarded to Russia and Qatar.

Last Tuesday, FIFA president Joseph Blatter resigned just days after being re-elected for a fifth term. Reports have indicated that Mr. Blatter may be a target of the US investigation for his role in an alleged $10 million payment, on behalf of South African officials, to accounts controlled by former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, in order to secure the 2010 World Cup hosting rights. All the parties involved, including Joseph Blatter, are still denying any wrongdoing.

The British Foreign Secretary, Phillip Hammond, said yesterday that "Britain would offer support to any other country chosen to host the World Cup" but ruled out any possibility of bidding for the 2022 competition if the hosting rights were stripped from Qatar. #Football #Police #Society