World Cup 2026 bidding process delayed by FIFA

Zurich, June 10 (IANS) Crisis-hit FIFA has postponed the bidding process to host the 2026 World Cup football tournament.

Embroiled in a corruption scandal that has shaken the foundation of the world football’s governing body to its very core, FIFA confirmed its decision of postponement.

The decision was due to be made in Kuala Lumpur in May, 2017.

“It was decided to place the administrative process on hold for the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding due to the current situation.

Further decisions regarding the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding process will be discussed by the FIFA Executive Committee at a later date,” FIFA said in a statement on Wednesday.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, currently in Russia to meet with the local organising committee 45 days before the preliminary draw for the 2018 World Cup, said the turbulent situation forced the decision to be taken.

“Due to the situation, I think it’s nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being,” he said at a press conference in Samara, Russia, on Wednesday.

FIFA is currently involved in several corruption investigations with Swiss authorities probing the legality of the bidding process of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Both Russia and Qatar have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has already arrested seven top FIFA officials and indicted 14 people for financial misdemeanour.

The United States is the frontrunner to stage the tournament, but Canada, Mexico and Colombia are also believed to be in contention, BBC reported on Wednesday.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter resigned days after getting elected for a fifth four-year term but will continue till a successor is chosen by the world football governing body’s executive committee.

His successor is likely to be chosen on December 16 by an emergency executive committee meeting.

He is being probed by the FBI for his role in the scandal. Valcke’s role too is under the scanner even though he has not been indicted by the US.

Valcke also defended FIFA’s handling of a $10m payment from the South African government towards a Caribbean diaspora legacy programme. US prosecutors alleged that the payment was a bribe to help secure the 2010 World Cup for South Africa.

The South African government said it was a legitimate payment to promote Caribbean football.

“It was not FIFA’s money. It was a request from official South African authorities and the South African Football Association (SAFA). As long as it is in line with rules we do it,” said Valcke.

“I don’t understand what’s the problem and why I am such a target in this question. You (the media) have decided that after Blatter I am the head to be cut, fine, but don’t say it is because of this $10 million.”

 

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