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Russia, Qatar may lose World Cup, FIFA official says

As scandal unfolds, allegations surface that South Africa defeated Morocco in bid to host 2010 games through bribery

A FIFA flag at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on June 7, 2015 (Paul Faith/AFP)
A FIFA flag at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on June 7, 2015 (Paul Faith/AFP)

Russia and Qatar could lose the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups if evidence is found of corruption in the bidding process, a FIFA official was quoted as saying on Sunday.

The comments by the head of FIFA’s auditing and compliance committee came as bribery claims mounted against disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, the man at the heart of the scandal engulfing football’s world body.

“If evidence exists that Qatar and Russia received the (World Cup) awards only thanks to bribes, then the awards could be annulled,” Domenico Scala told the Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung.

He said however that “this evidence has not been provided” so far.

A 2007 email shows FIFA President Sepp Blatter and then-South African President Thabo Mbeki held “discussions” over the $10 million that ultimately went to allegedly corrupt senior soccer executives as payback for supporting the country’s World Cup bid, a newspaper claimed Sunday.

South Africa’s Sunday Times reported that the email from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke to the South African government asks when the $10 million, characterized as a bribe by American investigators, will be transferred.

A picture taken on April 27, 2011 shows then FIFA's vice-president Jack Warner in Cartagena. Jack Warner was among several soccer officials charged, on May 27, 2015, suspected of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars.  (AFP PHOTO / Luis Acosta)
A picture taken on April 27, 2011 shows then FIFA’s vice-president Jack Warner in Cartagena. Jack Warner was among several soccer officials charged, on May 27, 2015, suspected of receiving bribes worth millions of dollars. (AFP PHOTO / Luis Acosta)

The newspaper said that in the email, which was not published, Valcke wrote that the $10 million was “based on discussions between FIFA and the South African government, and also between our President (Blatter) and President Thabo Mbeki.”

US investigators alleged in their indictment into corruption in world soccer that the $10 million went to Warner, who is currently under arrest, as payback for him and two other FIFA executive committee members at the time for voting for South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

South Africa won the World Cup bid by beating Morocco 14-10 in a vote of FIFA’s ruling panel of executives in Zurich in 2004. The US DOJ alleges that vote was completely corrupted, with Warner, Blazer and an unnamed senior South American FIFA official — believed to be former finance committee chairman Grondona, who authorized the payments — all agreeing to take bribes to back South Africa.

Those three votes would have swung the ballot in South Africa’s favor. A Moroccan bid official also attempted to bribe Warner with $1 million, the DOJ alleged in its indictment documents.

Swiss judicial authorities are already probing the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Around 14 current or former FIFA officials and sports marketing executives are also accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks scheme going back 20 years involving a total of $150 million in bribes.

The revelations have thrown the world of football into turmoil and led to the resignation of long-serving FIFA president Blatter last week, just four days after his reelection for a fifth successive term.

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