Football Association chairman Greg Dyke believes significant doubt remains over whether Qatar will actually host the 2022 World Cup, five years on from what he calls “the worst moment in FIFA’s history”.
The vote by FIFA’s executive committee on December 2, 2010 awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar. Since then there have been accusations that FIFA members were paid or given incentives to vote for Qatar, and earlier this year the Swiss attorney general launched an investigation into the bidding process for both the tournaments.
The Swiss investigation is looking at more than 120 “suspicious activity reports” linked to FIFA’s decision to award the tournaments to Russia and Qatar, including possible money-laundering. Both countries have strongly denied any wrongdoing during their World Cup bids.
Dyke told Press Association Sport: “The truth is that I suspect it was the worst moment in FIFA’s history and that it will be living with the consequences for at least another seven years.
“If the Swiss criminal investigation demonstrates that there was corruption then there still has to be doubt about whether the World Cup will be in Qatar. I personally still don’t think it is certain.
“If the investigations going on by the Swiss authorities and the FBI demonstrate there were financial irregularities then a lot of people will be pushing for the 2022 World Cup to be re-bid.”
Dyke pointed out the 22-strong FIFA executive committee at the time had been warned of the risks of the heat in Qatar in a report by technical inspectors. Only seven of that 22 will be at the FIFA meeting this week and many of the others have been provisionally suspended – including FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini – banned or are under investigation.
He added: “If you look back now there was absolutely no legitimate reason for awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, therefore immediately everyone thinks something else must have been going on.
“We all know that the FIFA technical inspection advised strongly against it on the grounds that it was far too hot in the summer and as we have seen since, they have now had to move it to the winter.
“Furthermore, so many members of the executive committee at that time have either been suspended or are being investigated.”
The FA is also pushing FIFA for answers after Blatter’s claim that a deal had been fixed to hand Russia the 2018 World Cup before the vote. The FA spent £21million ($31.6m) on England’sfailed bid for the tournament, and Dyke confirmed that another letter asking FIFA for information has been sent this week.
FIFA’s executive committee meets again in Zurich on Wednesday and Thursday with the body to rule on reform proposals including term limits and an age limit of 74 for officials, plus one voting woman from each confederation.
Dyke also wants FIFA to make public the salaries paid to the president and senior executives – and disclosed that his own salary as FA chairman is £150,000 ($226,000) a year for what is nominally a three-day week, although he often spends four or five days a week on FA business.
He said: “It is now seen as correct for all public companies and large organizations such as FIFA to publish what their senior people are receiving. I have never had a problem with my salary being disclosed. No one knows what Blatter has earned and that’s unacceptable.”
The reform proposals have been drawn up by Francois Carrard, the former director general of the International Olympic Committee, and sponsors are keeping a watchful eye on developments.
Card giant VISA has warned it could sever its links if it is unhappy with the reforms agreed.