06/08/2015, 00.00
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As FIFA bribery scandal grows, Russia and Qatar could lose the their World Cup

Should accusations of corruption stick, Russian and Qatar could lose the right to host the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup respectively. An investigation that began in the United States appears to have undone the FIFA system. FIFA’s president Blatter has resigned. Evidence of bribes for the 2010 South Africa World Cup have come to the fore. Big sponsors like Coca Cola are calling for major house cleaning.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Russia and Qatar could lose the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively if evidence of bribery emerges, said Domenico Scala, a top official with soccer’s governing body, FIFA

Hit by the unprecedented scandal, FIFA’s President Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, 79, from Switzerland, resigned soon after his re-election. The countries involved deny wrongdoing in their bidding processes.

"Should there be evidence that the awards to Qatar and Russia came only because of bought votes, then the awards could be cancelled,” Said Scala who heads of FIFA's audit and compliance committee. However, "Until today, the respective evidence has not been provided."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times published new claims from a former FIFA executive committee member saying the vote to host the 2010 World Cup was tampered with to ensure the “right” result.

A former member from Botswana, Ismail Bhamjee, stated that based on his calculations Morocco beat South Africa by two votes in 2004 but the resulted was changed because South Africa paid higher bribes.

One of the organisation’s top officials involved is FIFA vice-president Jack Warner who allegedly received over a million dollars. And even Sepp Blatter knew about the US$ 10 million paid by South Africa.

A (not yet released) e-mail appears to indicate that FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke knew about talks between the FIFA president and then South African President Thabo Mbeki to this effect.

Qatar is also suspected of paying £ 1.2 million for the World Cup in 2022, a claim denied by Qatari authorities.

The high profile US indictment charged 14 FIFA officials of 47 counts of racketeering and fraud. Swiss authorities are also engaged in their own probe into the Russian and Qatar bids for the 2018 and 2022 cups.

For soccer insiders, the FIFA system came unravelled for at least two reasons.

First, Blatter began losing support within the organisation. In the May 29 presidential election, the FIFA president was re-elected with only 133 of a total 209, his lowest score ever.

Secondly, FIFA’s corporate sponsors became increasingly uncomfortable, and made their views known. Coca-Cola Co., for example, sent Blatter a sharply worded letter calling for reform and a clean sweep.

In a public statement, it also urged “FIFA to take concrete actions to fully address all of the issues that have been raised, in a swift and transparent manner.” After this, Blatter resigned.

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