Russia and Qatar could be stripped of their World Cup hosting rights if evidence emerges of bribery in the bidding process, Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, told a Swiss newspaper.
The FBI's investigation of bribery and corruption at FIFA includes scrutiny of how soccer's governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar, a U.S. law enforcement official told Reuters this week.
"If evidence should emerge that the awards to Qatar and Russia only came about thanks to bought votes, then the awards could be invalidated," Scala told Sonntags Zeitung in an interview published Sunday.
"This evidence has not yet been brought forth."
Russia and Qatar have denied wrongdoing in the conduct of their bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, which were not the subject of charges announced by U.S. prosecutors last week against FIFA officials.
Scala made similar comments in 2013 but events over the last two weeks, which included a dawn police raid in Zurich and the arrests of several FIFA officials on U.S. charges, have added urgency to his remarks.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he supported Qatar hosting the 2022 tournament, but said Britain would work with another country if FIFA re-opened the bidding process.
"We would offer our support to any country that has been chosen to host the World Cup," Hammond told BBC World Service radio, saying the final decision would be for FIFA to make.
Sepp Blatter unexpectedly announced Tuesday he was resigning, just four days after securing a fifth term as FIFA president and shortly before it emerged that he too was under investigation by U.S. law enforcement.
Scala's comments follow new revelations into the scale of corruption at FIFA including a report earlier this week that Germany sold weapons to Saudi Arabia, cutting short an arms embargo to do so, in order to win votes to host the 2006 World Cup.
Al Jazeera and Reuters