Geneva - Russia and Qatar could lose the right to host the 2018 and 2022
Soccer World Cups if evidence is found of corruption in the bidding process, a
FIFA official was quoted as saying on Sunday.
The comments by the head of FIFA's auditing and compliance committee came as
bribery claims mounted against disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack
Warner, the man at the heart of the scandal engulfing football's world body.
"If evidence exists that Qatar and Russia received the (World Cup)
awards only thanks to bribes, then the awards could be annulled," Domenico
Scala told the Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung.
He said however 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 being stripped of the right to host the
Swiss judicial authorities are already probing the awarding of the 2018 and
2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar as part of a far-reaching corruption
scandal that has also raised questions about the 2010 event in South Africa.
Around 14 current or former FIFA officials and sports marketing executives
are also accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks
scheme going back 20 years involving a total of $150 million in bribes.
The revelations have thrown the world of football into turmoil and 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.
Blatter's replacement will not be chosen for months, but Freddy Rumo, a
former vice president of European football's governing body UEFA, has said that
changing FIFA presidents will not root out graft at the organisation.
"The corruption, in my opinion, has nothing to do with Blatter's person,"
he told Swiss public broadcaster RTS.
"The solution of replacing a president with another will have basically
Although Blatter has not been charged and has denied any wrongdoing,
allegations are swirling around his one-time right-hand man Warner.
Accusations surfaced on Sunday that Warner sought a $7 million bribe from
Egypt for votes in the bidding process for the 2010 World Cup, and that he
pocketed a $10 million payment from South Africa - the eventual host.
Warner was arrested on May 29 at the request of US authorities and is
currently free on $400 000 bail pending a decision in his extradition case.
The 72-year-old former schoolteacher and Trinidadian justice minister has
denied all the allegations against him.
The BBC claimed he personally used the $10 million payment to FIFA in 2008
which South Africa says was intended for football development for the African
diaspora in the Caribbean, where Warner was the longtime football baron.
The BBC, citing documents it has seen, said Warner laundered the money
through a supermarket chain, made cash withdrawals, paid off his credit cards
and took personal loans.
In three transactions in 2008, funds totalling $10 million were moved from
FIFA's bank into an account of the Confederation of North, Central American and
Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) which was controlled by Warner, then
According to a 2007 email published on Sunday by South Africa's Sunday
Times, Blatter and then South African president Thabo Mbeki discussed the $10
The email came from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, who has previously
said "I have nothing to blame myself for" over the payment.
In another allegation, former Egyptian sports minister Aley Eddine Helal
said Warner asked Egypt in 2004 for a $7-million bribe in exchange for seven
votes to host the 2010 Cup.
"Warner was the one who approached us from FIFA. He said he could
guarantee us seven votes... He asked for $1 million for each vote,"
claimed Helal, who has said Warner's offer was rebuffed.
Egypt, one of the countries dominating African football, received no votes
in the 2004 FIFA ballot.
Warner -- still a powerful member of parliament in Trinidad and Tobago - has
taken out paid advertisements in the Trinidadian media, published articles in
local newspapers and held rallies with his Independent Liberal Party to defend
The country's justice minister said on Sunday that Warner should be
investigated locally, but added that he should nevertheless turn himself in to
FIFA has also been rocked by testimony from disgraced former North American
football supremo Chuck Blazer that he and other FIFA executives agreed to
accept bribes during bidding for both the 2010 Cup and the 1998 event hosted by
Blazer's testimony - released last week - is a key plank in the US probe
against FIFA, which federal prosecutors are pursuing as a "Racketeering
Influenced Corrupt Organisation".
South Africa on Sunday "categorically" denied it paid bribes to
secure the World Cup - the first in Africa and one of Blatter's main pledges
when he took over as FIFA president in 1998.
The former chief of France's 1998 World Cup organising committee last week
also denied any "irregularities" over their bid.