European MPs support review of FIFA’s award of World Cups to Russia, Qatar

The European Parliament has adopted a resolution urging the dismissal of all corrupt FIFA officials and a review of all of the football governing body’s decisions in the last decade, including awarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, the European MPs called for a “zero-tolerance policy on corruption in football,” after “FIFA have seriously damaged the credibility and the integrity” of the game.

They welcomed the resignation of FIFA’s long-time president, Sepp Blatter, and appealed to the organization to appoint an interim leader, who will head world football until the presidential election that will take place probably in December.

The resolution, which was passed by a show of hands, said “that all officials involved in financial misconduct should be dismissed and any decisions that are linked to corrupt or criminal activities should be reviewed.”

The MEPs stressed “the importance of the investigation by Swiss and US authorities into the award of the 1998, 2010, 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to France, South Africa, Russia and Qatar.”

The resolution backed Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee, who said last week that “if evidence should emerge that the awards to Qatar and Russia only came about thanks to bought votes then the awards could be invalidated.”

However, in his interview with the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung, Scala added that “this evidence has not yet been brought forth.”

Police officers stand in front of the FIFA headquarters during an extraordinary Executive Committee meeting in Zurich, Switzerland (Reuters / Arnd Wiegmann)

The European parliament resolution suggested in-depth structural reforms within FIFA to deal with "rampant, systemic and deep-rooted" corruption.

The MEPs said they want football’s governing body to improve its transparency and accountability, implementing a strict code of conduct for its management and Executive Committee, which will be supervised by an independent monitoring body.

The resolution called on all EU countries to fully cooperate with the ongoing and future investigation into corruption in FIFA.

READ MORE: FIFA suspends 2026 World Cup bidding amid corruption scandal

Fifty-four European countries are FIFA members; with Europe giving football more champions than any other continent as Italy, Germany, England, Spain and France have 11 titles between them.

Blatter was elected for his fifth term as FIFA president on May 29, but announced his resignation a few days later, saying that he’ll stay in charge until his replacement is elected.

The move came amid a huge corruption scandal in the organization as US investigators accused over a dozen FIFA-linked officials and businessmen of bribery, fraud and money laundering.

Several people were arrested at a Zurich hotel where they had gathered ahead of the organization’s general meeting.
Swiss prosecutors are also looking into the awarding of the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar, respectively, to ascertain whether the votes were clean and legal.

Russia insists that it won the right to host the World Cup in a fair competition, saying that it continues to cooperate with FIFA regarding preparations for the big event.

Earlier this week, FIFA confirmed that there are “no legal grounds” to deprive Russia and Qatar of the World Cup host status.

Reports of Qatar hosting 2018 World Cup instead of Russia ‘laughable’ – organizers

The organizing committee of World Cup 2018 has refuted media reports suggesting FIFA is preparing to move the football tournament from Russia to Qatar due to the Ukrainian crisis and the cooling of relations between Moscow and the West.

“The latest rumors are laughable. I don’t think it would make any sense to comment on them,” Aleksey Sorokin, director general of the Russia 2018 organizing committee, said during the World Football Forum in Moscow on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Spanish AS daily reported that football’s governing body, FIFA, has secretly urged Qatar, which is to host the World Cup in 2022, to speed up its preparations.

READ MORE: England ready to host 2022 World Cup if Qatar dropped – Culture Secretary

A Qatari source told the paper that FIFA asked the Gulf state to make sure that the construction of at least eight stadiums is complete by 2018, so that Qatar could stage the tournament instead of Russia if the situation in war-torn Ukraine keeps deteriorating.

“This [stripping Russia of its right to host the 2018 World Cup] will not happen, but if it does we will be ready,” the source said.

The relations between Moscow and the West deteriorated after Russia’s reunion with Crimea and the start of the military conflict in eastern Ukraine last spring, which, according to the UN, has left 6,400 people dead.

Despite failing to provide any proof, the West blames Russia for masterminding the Ukrainian unrest and supporting the rebels in the country’s eastern Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.