Russia and Qatar could lose their World Cup hosting rights if proof of bribery emerges, a leading FFIFA official said Sunday.
“If evidence should emerge that the awards to Qatar and Russia only came about thanks to bought votes then the awards could be invalidated,” Domenico Scala, the independent chairperson of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, told Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung. “This evidence has not yet been brought forth.”
Scala’s warning comes as the FBI confirmed last week it will extend its investigation of bribery and corruption at FIFA to include how Russia and Qatar gained their hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.
Russia and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing in their bidding processes.
"It is very difficult for some to digest that an Arab Islamic country has this tournament, as if this right can't be for an Arab state,” Qatar's Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah told Reuters affirming hosting rights will not be annulled. "I believe it is because of prejudice and racism that we have this bashing campaign against Qatar."
Similarly, Russia dismissed concerns it might not host the cup. "Cooperation with FIFA is going on and, most importantly, Russia is continuing preparations for the 2018 World Cup," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said.
New Evidence Shows Jack Warner Did Use Bribe Money
A new BBC investigation found new evidence tracing how former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner used a US$10 million payment from FIFA, made by South Africa, for money laundering, cash withdrawals, and personal loans.
The money was meant to develop a Caribbean diaspora legacy program, but BBC found that the US$10 million were received into accounts of a North and Central American and Caribbean football body controlled by Jack Warner.
According to BBC findings, about US$4.8 million went to JTA Supermarkets, a large chain in Trinidad & Tobago, US$1.6 million paid for Warner’s credit cards and personal loans while US$360,000 were withdrawn by people connected to him.
The Trinidadian is one of more than a dozen FIFA officials being investigated by the FBI and U.S. prosecutors regarding a US$150-million scandal involving bribes and money laundering, including possible granting of world cups to Qatar and Russia.
The U.S. indictment alleged earlier that Warner “laundered the funds through accounts held in the name of a large supermarket chain and affiliated investment company in Trinidad.”
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The BBC shared findings of its investigation with Brent Sancho, Trinidad and Tobago's sports minister and a former footballer.
"He [Jack Warner] must face justice, he must answer all of these questions. Justice has to be served. He will have to account, with this investigation, he will have to answer for his actions,” Sancho told the BBC.
The former FIFA vice president has denied receiving any bribes, but is currently being investigated. The Interpol has put out an alert for his arrest.
Last week, Warner went on national television in Trinidad and Tobago to say he feared for his life and that he had checks and other documents that link FIFA President Joseph Blatter and other of the organization’s officials to dubious financing of elections in the Caribbean country. Blatter resigned as president of the world football organization, but will stay on until elections for a successor take place sometime after December, according to FIFA regulations.