Maxim Zmeyev / Reuters

FIFA suspends bidding process for 2026 World Cup amid widening graft probe

World soccer’s organizing body also confirms that succession process for president will begin in July

Soccer’s scandal-ridden governing body has suspended the 2026 World Cup bidding process amid a widening probe into corruption at the organization and allegations of bribery during previous bid contests.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Wednesday that it would be “nonsense” to begin the process now. A decision had been due to be announced in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in May 2017. But FIFA will now write to its members outlining a new time frame for the process.

"It was decided to place the administrative process on hold for the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding due to the current situation," read a subsequent FIFA statement.

"Further decisions regarding the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding process will discussed by the FIFA Executive Committee at a later date," it added.

The development comes as Swiss prosecutors continue to investigate alleged irregularities surrounding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Meanwhile, it also emerged Wednesday that FIFA will hold an extraordinary committee meeting in July to discuss dates for an election to replace outgoing president Sepp Blatter, who announced his plans to resign last week amid mounting pressure for him to go.

Soccer's governing body said in a statement that there were “various date options” for the extraordinary Congress and did not confirm a report by the BBC that the presidential election would take place on Dec. 16.

Last week, Domenico Scala, head of FIFA's audit and compliance committee and the man responsible for overseeing the election, said it could take place any time between December and March.

“It requires an extraordinary executive committee that needs to confirm a date and agenda for the extraordinary elective Congress,” a FIFA spokesperson said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“This extraordinary executive committee will convene in July, the precise date to be confirmed within this week. For this extraordinary elective congress (to elect Blatter's successor) there are currently various date options for discussion.”

Blatter announced his resignation last Tuesday, less than a week after Swiss police staged a dawn raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich and arrested several officials on corruption charges filed by U.S. prosecutors in New York.

However, Blatter is intent on staying in office until his successor is appointed and wants to lead the effort to clean up his federation.

The BBC said that mid-December was Blatter's preferred option for electing a new president.

Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, who lost out to Blatter in the election, has appeared to be a possible candidate while Chung Mong-joon, the billionaire scion of South Korea's Hyundai conglomerate, is also weighing a bid to replace Blatter.

Scala said last week that at least four months' notice was required for a presidential election to be held.

“FIFA must also consider appropriate time to vet candidates and allow them to present their ideas for the organization that set forth their vision,” he said at the time.

Candidates need to have written backing from five national associations to be eligible. The president is elected by FIFA's 209 member associations, each of which holds one vote.

Those members will also be charged with selecting the host nation in a now-delayed bidding process for the 2026 World Cup. Potential bidders include the United States, Mexico, Canada and countries from Europe.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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