The Australian government are weighing up possible legal action to reclaim more than $38 million (USD) spent on the country’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, according to a report. Allegations are emerging that Qatar, who won the right to host the tournament by a landslide, did so by bribing FIFA officials. Australia’s bid ended in humiliation for the nation, which received just one vote.
The Sunday Times revealed last week that Qatar secured the support of key officials by using a $5 million (USD) slush fund. The soccer world will be waiting with bated breath for the report by FIFA’s chief investigator Michael Garcia, which may well verify these allegations with hard evidence. If the suspicions are confirmed, this would throw up a range of options for a number of aggrieved football associations.
One option would be for countries to attempt to recoup their losses from FIFA. Their argument would be that money was spent in the knowledge that each bid would be judged on merit alone, which clearly wasn’t the case. The Australian government are the first to declare their intention to go down this route. The United States, Japan, and South Korea, could also follow suit and threaten FIFA with legal action.
Another possibility is that there could be a re-vote for the 2022 World Cup. Most people in the footballing world – fans, clubs, FAs, and probably players – would prefer this option.
Going by the pre-ballot predictions the first time around, we could expect either the United States or Australia to win the right to host the 2022 tournament, if a second ballot was sanctioned. Japan and South Korea hosted (jointly) a World Cup as recently as 2002, which could work against them.
At any rate, looking at the two other main considerations – infrastructure and footballing pedigree – any of these nations are preferred to Qatar as a World Cup host, even before the Arab emirate’s credibility was harmed by corruption allegations. A second ballot would also be preferable because it would remove the possibility of any changes to the European domestic season.
However, with all of Qatar’s financial and legal might, don’t be surprised if they are able to block this move in the courts. Despite the tidal wave of popular disapproval, Qatar may well find a way to hold on to the World Cup. The 2022 World Cup’s fate hinges on Michael Garcia’s ability to find the ‘smoking gun’, proving the complicity of Qatar and FIFA to rig the vote. Garcia’s findings are due to be published towards the end of July.