Qatar World Cup gets all clear, but Fifa could fine English FA
Report fails to finds enough evidence of corruption to strip Gulf state of 2022 tournament
The 2022 World Cup will be staged in Qatar after a Fifa investigation found insufficient evidence of wrongdoing to warrant stripping the Gulf State of hosting football's showpiece tournament.
Ever since Fifa voted in December 2010 to award Qatar the World Cup in 2022 there have been allegations of widespread corruption in the bidding process. But according to the Daily Telegraph the long-awaited report, published this morning, will not recommend further action against Qatar.
"The prospect of Qatar emerging as the villain of the most controversial bidding process in sporting history is expected to be all but dismissed by the report, which nevertheless criticises the Gulf state's conduct during its expensively-assembled bid," reports the Telegraph, one of several British newspapers that has devoted much coverage over the past four years into examining how a nation with little football tradition and a climate totally unsuited to staging a World Cup ended up winning the vote.
As the Telegraph points out two of Fifa's senior figures – Qatar Fifa ExCo member Mohammed bin Hammam and former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner – have lost their positions following allegations of corruption surrounding the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup and Russia the 2018 event.
Following the allegations Fifa appointed Michael J Garcia its chief investigator to examine whether there had been a lack of probity in the voting procedure. The Guardian says that Garcia – a New York district attorney – compiled a 430-page dossier in his 18-month investigation, which has been condensed by Fifa's head judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert, into a document comprising 42 pages that contains "no smoking gun".
There is no recommendation in the report's conclusion "for the tournament to be snatched away from Russia or Qatar", although that it could still happen should Fifa's ruling executive committee so wish. But that, says the Telegraph, is unlikely to happen. After all, it was the ruling executive committee that stood accused of malpractice during the initial bidding process in 2010.
But while Qatar and Russia won't be punished there is the possibility that individuals will face disciplinary action, and other countries involved in the initial bidding process are also likely to come in for criticism – including the Football Association.
England made an unsuccessful bid for the 2018 World Cup and the Telegraph warns that the FA's decision to sponsor a Caribbean Football Union summit organised by Warner to the tune of £35,000 could land them in hot water. If Garcia fids that the England bid breached the rules on providing "any benefit, opportunity, promise, remuneration or service" to those involved in the 2010 vote they could be fined.
That would be harsh on England, in the opinion of the Guardian, as the FA "are believed to have co-operated freely with Garcia" and consequently will be "disproportionately criticised for relatively minor infractions" because of their openness.