Qatar could still be stripped of 2022 World Cup, say senior MPs
Qatar could lose its controversial hosting of the 2022 football World Cup if investigators find the country won the tournament based on “improper payments”, senior MPs have said.
Former culture secretary John Whittingdale said there was “mounting evidence” the Qatari campaign had been “riddled with corruption”.
Mr Whittingdale suggested that if authorities acted now there would be enough time to prepare for the 2022 World Cup in another country.
Damien Collins, the Conservative chairman of the Commons culture, media and sport committee, said "there is absolutely no question that Qatar should lose the right to host the World Cup" if it is proven that bribes were paid in return for votes.
Threats to Qatar’s World Cup were made after French investigators revealed they were investigating if French President Nicolas Sarkozy had received funds from transactions negotiated around the time of the 2022 bid.
These included funds from the sale of Paris Saint-Germain football club to Qatar.
France has emerged as one of the key backers of the Qatari bid, with former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter – himself facing corruption charges - admitting Sarkozy was instrumental in ensuring the bid garnered European support.
Qatar is facing a series of international criminal inquiries into its successful World Cup bid amid claims that huge bribes were paid to secure support.
There was instant criticism when the Gulf state won the bid for the World Cup, as summer temperatures in Qatar regularly reach 40 degrees and its poor human rights record.
Mr Whittingdale, who was culture secretary under David Cameron, said: "There was always a great deal of surprise that anybody thought Qatar was suitable in the first place.
"We've known that things were fishy. Since 2010 there has been mounting evidence that the whole thing was riddled with corruption.
We do need to await the outcome of the investigations. But if it looks as if the decision to award it to Qatar was taken on the basis of widescale bribes being paid then I would have thought the case for re-opening it is very strong. Qatar is not for another five years."
Mr Collins said: “If you can prove that bribes were paid in return for votes, then there is absolutely no question that Qatar should lose the right to host the World Cup.
“I think that there may be more work that’s being done below the radar by law enforcement agencies looking at some of these issues than we may not have been aware of."