As the World Cup looms larger, more and more pressure will be exerted to take away Qatar's seemingly successful bid for 2022. As FIFA was launching its own investigation into the bribery claims against Qatar, pressure was mounting to stage a redo of the bidding process and find a new host for the 2022 World Cup. It's a path that could lead to the United States playing host.
At least one official said he is on board with a re-vote if, as reported by the London Sunday Times, Qatar won the bid with the assistance of bribe money.
"I certainly as a member of the executive committee would have absolutely no problem whatsoever if the recommendation was for a re-vote," FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce said.
If (FIFA chief investigator Michael Garcia) comes up with concrete evidence and concrete evidence is given to the executive committee and to FIFA, then it has to be looked at very seriously. The FIFA executive committee are 100 percent. He will be allowed to go and speak to anyone from around the world to complete his mission.
Nearly four years ago, the U.S. finished second to Qatar in the voting to host the 2022 World Cup, ahead of South Korea, Japan and Australia. The U.S. is also in the unique situation of being able to host the tournament on short notice with the necessary infrastructure already in place.
Greg Dyke, the chairman of Britain's soccer federation, described the evidence as "pretty damning. It clearly has to be investigated as a matter of urgency by FIFA," Dyke told a British TV station. "If it is shown that the process was corrupt, or corrupted, then I do think there will have to be a discussion about whether you take it away from Qatar. It was always seen as a strange decision to give the World Cup to a country where it is so hot in the summer you can't possibly play it. The advice from FIFA's own safety group was there are real safety problems, and yet that was ignored by the people who were voting."
The latest allegations outlined in The Sunday Times in London focus on disgraced former Asian Football Confederation president and one-time rival to Blatter, Mohamed bin Hammam. Bin Hammam helped Australia become a member of the AFC in 2005, making qualification to the World Cup easier. Before the 2022 bid vote, bin Hammam allegedly used his role in charge of FIFA's goal program to channel more than $800,000 to Ivory Coast, which had a delegate entitled to vote on the 2022 bid.
Michel Platini, one of the most powerful men in world football, was on Monday night under pressure to explain a secret meeting with the man at the centre of the Qatar World Cup scandal.
The Telegraph has unearthed evidence that Mr Platini, a former leading French international and the president of Uefa, European football’s governing body, had a private discussion with Mohamed Bin Hammam, the controversial Qatari who paid millions of pounds to football officials around the world.
The emergence of the meeting means that France has become the first European nation to be drawn into the World Cup bribery scandal, which has so far been limited to African and Caribbean countries.
It is understood that the meeting took place shortly before Fifa awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, and that Mr Bin Hammam personally lobbied Mr Platini to support the Emirate’s bid.
Fifa executive committee members vote in secret, but Mr Platini has disclosed that he voted for Qatar in the ballot, which was held in 2010. He has also supported the proposal to move the tournament to the winter to avoid Qatar’s summer heat.
Crucially for Australia, he also allegedly paid more than $400,000 for legal and private detective fees for Reynald Temarii, who was the Oceania delegate until he was suspended for telling an undercover journalist he had been offered $14 million for his vote. Bin Hammam's alleged intervention helped Temarii appeal and keep his vote, thereby denying the replacement Oceania member a vote for Australia.
As it turned out, Australia was knocked out in the first round with just one vote out of 22. Japan and South Korea were knocked out until Qatar won 14 votes to eight for the US.
Bin Hammam is also alleged to have made more than $5.5 million in payments to African nations, which could influence the four African delegates who had a vote on the 2022 bid.
FIFA's rules ban bid committees, or any of their associates, from "providing ... any monetary gifts [or] any kind of personal advantage that could give even the impression of exerting influence, or conflict of interest, either directly or indirectly, in connection with the bidding process".
Nonetheless, the Qatari bid team denies bin Hammam was linked officially or unofficially to their efforts. Indeed, a benefactor acting on his own and promoting his nation may fall outside the weak FIFA rules. It will be hard to prove.
What's more, many will say generosity is the currency of bidding for all nations.
The only positive from the latest allegations is that any re-vote would probably select the US as host and spare players the risks of extreme heat and migrant workers the dangers of joining the 1000-plus colleagues who have died on Qatari construction sites in the past two years.