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Saturday 16 December 2017

Qatar may be stripped of World Cup - Blatter

Sam Wallace

FIFA president Sepp Blatter made the startling disclosure yesterday that he could not rule out a rerun of the voting for the right to host the 2022 World Cup finals which was controversially won in December by the tiny Arab emirate of Qatar.

Blatter, who is seeking re-election next month for a fourth term, said that a Fifa inquiry into claims that there was corruption in the vote could lead to the Fifa executive committee (ExCo) voting again. It would represent the biggest U-turn in their history.

While Blatter was not thought to have cast his own vote for Qatar, he knows that any move to go back on the decision would cause huge ructions. While the 75-year-old did not say what he thought the likely outcome of Fifa's investigation would be, he refused to put any limit on the measures they could take if they uncovered wrongdoing.

Blatter said that the notion that the 2022 vote would be reheld was "alarming" but conceded it was one that had a groundswell of popular support and was "circulating around the world".

He said: "But don't ask me now yes or no, let us go step by step. It's like we are in an ordinary court and in an ordinary court we cannot ask: 'If, if, if'."

The key corruption allegations that could trigger a rerun of the 2022 vote were that ExCo members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma took bribes of $1.5m (€1.05m) each to vote for Qatar.

Taking the World Cup from Qatar would be a huge blow to the prestige of Fifa, which has been widely criticised for its decision to award the world's biggest sporting event to a country of 1.6 million people with little football culture and temperatures of around 50C in June and July.

Qatar spent by far and away the most on its bid, committing €30m on communications alone in one year. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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