The sweet dreams of the people of Qatar and Russia will come true. Allegations of corrupt practices in acquiring the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups have finally ended being just that. Allegations.
Because there isn’t enough evidence to warrant a re-vote on the protracted matter of Russia and Qatar, new FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said that the games will go on. It emerged after the FIFA Congress in Zurich that the still-to-be-published Garcia report into the bidding process for Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 has no smoking gun in its details. Reportedly, the report will only the see light of day when an investigation into the conduct of Thailand’s Worawi Makudi is complete. Makudi allegedly demanded the TV rights to a friendly between England and the Thai national team in return for voting for England to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Honestly, even if ‘here and there’ bribery is confirmed, it won’t be enough to strip the two aspiring nations of their rights. It is now incumbent upon the two countries, though, to ensure that in the final analysis, they truly deserved it.
Speaking on Monday during his first full working day in the job after winning Friday’s election to succeed Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s new leader called for everyone to focus on ensuring the tournaments go without a hindrance.
He told reporters in Zurich: “Concerning Qatar and Russia, the decisions were taken in 2010 by the executive committee, but since 2010 there has been speculation and allegations and noise. It’s now necessary to organize the best World Cup in history in Russia in 2018 and in 2022 in Qatar.”
There must surely have been a collective sigh of relief in Russia and Qatar, countries sitting on the proverbial fence ever since the charges of misdemeanors began floating around. Vindication, perhaps?
FIFA has also voted in a series of reforms in an attempt to put an end to corruption that infected the Sepp Blatter era. One of them was the provision to reveal the salaries paid to senior officials, including Infantino. The Swiss said the issue of his remuneration had not been discussed as yet.
When asked what he would be paid, he said: “I have no idea yet. I know you can’t believe it but it’s not (for the) money that I was candidate to become FIFA president. I have not discussed with anyone about my pay or what my pay will be. We will see.”
Well, so far so good, Mr president.