Culture Secretary John Whittingdale says England is ready to host the 2022 World Cup if it is stripped from Qatar in the wake of allegations of corruption and bribery in Fifa.
John Whittingdale said the case for re-running the 2022 bidding process is “very strong” if investigations show the original process was corrupt.
FBI and Swiss authorities are investigating bribery and corruption at Fifa, including scrutiny of how football’s governing body awarded the two tournaments to Russia and Qatar.
Speaking in the Commons Mr Whittingdale said “if Fifa came forward and asked us to consider hosting it, we have the facilities in this country and of course we did mount a very impressive, if unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 World Cup.” He said: “If there is evidence the bid process was corrupt then I think the case for re-running it is very strong.”
However the culture secretary backed FA chairman Greg Dyke’s observation that since the 2018 World Cup is being hosted by Russia, it may be unlikely that another European nation would be granted the 2022 edition.
Chuck Blazer (Credit: Reuters)
The culture secretary spoke as the scandal engulfing Fifa continued to unfold.
Overnight it was revealed that former top Fifa executive Chuck Blazer admitted bribes were paid to senior officials to vote for the 2010 and 1998 World Cups.
Plea bargain details published by the US Department of Justice revealed that Blazer admitted taking bribes totalling $10m for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup and an undisclosed sum for Morocco’s unsuccessful bid to host the 1998 tournament.
Hours later former Fifa vice president Jack Warner, who is wanted by US authorities, claimed he would reveal the “secrets” about the scandal and had documents linking Blatter and other officials to the 2010 election in Trinidad and Tobago.
This morning South African officials have announced their own investigation into the alleged bribes.
Mr Warner is one of 14 senior football officials and businessmen arrested last week, which has exploded into a scandal that led to Tuesday’s resignation of newly re-elected Fifa president Sepp Blatter. It is unclear what exactly caused Mr Blatter to throw in the towel but there are reports that he has also been placed under investigation.
Shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant said: “With the news from Chuck Glazer and Jack Warner, isn’t it increasingly evident that Fifa is a stinking sink of corruption and it has polluted everything it touched?
“Would it now not be wholly inappropriate for any money to pass from UK broadcasters in respect of 2018 or 2022 unless and until Blatter has actually left – rather than just declared he is leaving – Fifa is reformed and the 2018 and 2022 bids are rerun?”
Mr Whittingdale replied: “I share your astonishment that even today the new claims being made by Jack Warner, this whole saga becomes more murky and distasteful by the day.” He added, “however, if the World Cup goes ahead then I think it would be unfair to tell English fans, and indeed fans of the other home nations if their sides qualify, that they would not be able to watch their sides compete in the World Cup because the broadcasters were not going to purchase the sports rights to cover it… The important thing is we get this cleared up long before we actually get to the World Cup in 2018.”