Qatar 2022: Too late to move World Cup despite new US indictment, says leading UK sports lawyer
By Geraint Hughes
Last Updated: 08/04/20 6:41pm
A leading UK sports lawyer believes it is probably too late for the Qatar 2022 World Cup to be moved to a new host country.
Richard Cramer's comments come after new documents were released on Tuesday claiming former FIFA executive committee members were either offered or received bribes in return for votes.
The 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments were jointly awarded by FIFA in December 2010 in Zurich.
US investigations into corruption at the heart of FIFA's awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 tournament to Qatar allege bribes were taken in return for votes to host the World Cup.
In the latest twist, US authorities revealed a new indictment at the US District Court earlier this week.
Cramer told Sky Sports News: "The last thing FIFA needed was bad news. They can't ignore this though because it is real. If they brush this under the carpet it would be an injustice.
"If the allegations were just against Russia (who hosted the 2018 World Cup) the current FIFA would maybe be able to say 'it's not our problem' as that was the old FIFA which has been cleaned up now.
"FIFA has done a good job of cleaning up its act, but it's not just Russia, it's Qatar. There have always been doubts surrounding Qatar in 2022, but it is probably too late to change it now."
Cramer believes the latest allegations put in front of the US courts suggest unfinished business by the authorities in the United States.
"Why abandon it? Firstly it sends out a powerful message that corruption cannot be tolerated, secondly there must always be due process with a criminal trial," he said.
However, there is probably not enough time for fair process in the courts, if that is what happens, for any suggestion of moving the 2022 World Cup from Qatar. It would probably take four to six years for the authorities in the US and FIFA to work through all the allegations.
Both Russia and Qatar have consistently denied any wrongdoing in their bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments.
Qatar 2022 responded to the latest indictments in the US saying: "Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) strongly denies the allegations contained within the court papers made public in the US on April 6, 2020. They are part of a long-standing case, the subject of which is not the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process.
"Despite years of false claims, evidence has never been produced to demonstrate that Qatar won the rights to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 unethically or by means that contravened FIFA's strict bidding rules.
"The SC maintains that it strictly adhered to all rules and regulations for the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process and any claim to the contrary is baseless and will be fiercely contested."