SAMARA: Scandal-plagued FIFA postponed the bidding for the right to host the 2026 World Cup on Wednesday and embarked on the search to find a replacement for outgoing President Sepp Blatter.
FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said during an event in Russia that it would be “nonsense” to start the bidding process for the tournament for the time being. Meanwhile, FIFA said its executive committee would hold an extraordinary meeting in July to discuss “various dates options” for the Congress which will elect Blatter’s replacement.
The FBI are investigating bribery and corruption at FIFA, including scrutiny of how soccer’s governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia, which won the bidding for 2018, and Qatar, which is due to host the finals in 2022. Blatter tendered his resignation on June 2, four days after having been re-elected for a fifth term. Blatter has said he wants to remain in office until his successor is elected in order to carry out reforms at FIFA. But there have been widespread calls for him to step down at once given the gravity of the crisis facing the 111-year-old organisation.
His shock announcement came less than a week after Swiss police staged a dawn raid in Zurich and arrested several officials on corruption charges filed by US prosecutors in New York. “Due to the situation, I think it’s nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being. It will be postponed,” Valcke told a news conference in the southern Russian city of Samara. The decision on who hosts the 2026 finals had been due to be made in Kuala Lumpur in 2017. Valcke was visiting Samara, one of the host venues, to see how preparations are going for the 2018 finals.
Russian Minister Vitaly Mutko said he saw no threat to Russia hosting the cup in 2018 and its bid was in line with the law. Valcke, sitting beside Mutko after visiting one of the 2018 venues, said plans were on track and there had been nothing in Russia’s bid to conclude it was not in line with the regulations.