FIFA has ruled out a re-vote on awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar as Swiss authorities prepare to question ten executive committee members about the corruption-tainted bidding process.
Swiss prosecutors confirmed Wednesday they have launched a criminal investigation and will speak with the 10 ExCo members who remain on FIFA’s decision-making body since the botched bidding contest that led to the controversial December 2010 vote.
African football chief Issa Hayatou, an IOC member from Cameroon, Spain’s Angel Maria Villar Llona, Michel D’Hooghe of Belgium, Senes Erzik of Turkey, Worawi Makudi of Thailand, Marios Lefkaritis of Cyprus, Ivory Coast’s Jacques Anouma, Rafael Salguero of Guatemala, Egypt’s Hany Abo Rida and Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko will all be questioned, according to the Guardian.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini are also set to be called for questioning.
Walter de Gregorio, FIFA’s communications director, told a press conference in Zurich on Wednesday that world football’s governing body would not consider a re-vote.
He said the 2018 and 2022 tournaments “will be played” in Russia and Qatar, despite the Swiss probe sparking fresh questions about corruption in the bidding process.
While he said FIFA was surprised about the timing of the two corruption probes launched on Wednesday, one by the U.S. Department of Justice into nine football executives allegedly involved in a $150 million bribery scandal, the other by Swiss authorities, he said Friday’s FIFA Congress and presidential election would still go ahead.
“We wouldn’t have any interest to give the (Garcia bidding probe) files to the Swiss attorney on November 18 if we didn’t know the consequences,” he said.
“It is not a nice day, but it’s also a good day because the process goes on and we are looking forward to having the results.”
As for Sepp Blatter’s reaction to Wednesday’s dramatic developments, which serve only to further tarnish his leadership of FIFA, de Gregorio said the 79-year-old is “focused on the congress.
“The stress factor is a little bit higher today than it was yesterday,” he admitted. Blatter is quite relaxed because he knows he is not involved”.
“He is not dancing in his office, this kind of relaxed. He is very calm. He sees what happens. He is fully cooperative with everybody ... He knows it is a consequence of what we initiated.”