When Loretta Lynch and Richard Weber addressed the watching world following the launch of the federal investigations into FIFA corruption, they were clear to emphasize that this process would be a long one. But in the wake of Sepp Blatter’s announcement that he’ll be resigning as president, already the organization’s precarious house of cards is tumbling down.
Soccer supporters across the globe will eagerly anticipate the next FIFA extraordinary congress when the longstanding honcho finally relinquishes his grip on the organization. But questions are already being asked about what will change when Blatter walks out of world soccer’s governing body for the final time.
Will more revelations come to light in the wake of his resignation? Who is most likely to succeed the Swiss chief? And what’s going to happen to the key decisions and steps taken under Blatter’s tumultuous tenure which could well have been tainted by controversy?
The most pressing matter for soccer fans will be the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. In many respects FIFA’s decision to award the World Cup to Qatar in supposedly sullied circumstances was the trigger for the scrutiny being intensified on Blatter; just hours after his crestfallen announcement at a hastily arranged press conference, there were plenty calling for those decisions to be reevaluated.
FA president Greg Dyke was one of the first to do so: “He’s gone,” he said, per James Whaling of the Daily Mirror. “At long last we can sort out FIFA. We can go back to looking at those two World Cups. If I were Qatar right now I wouldn’t be feeling very comfortable.”
After all, the motives for scheduling a World Cup in the Middle-East are peculiar. The timing of the event, the punishing climate and the horrendous treatment of workers in the country all should have been enough in isolation for the organization to push on with alternatives. But if the bidding process is indeed revealed as compromised, drastic and swift action is needed.
At this juncture, the World Cup in 2022 may seem like a long way off. But if changes are to be made, votes are needed to be re-run, who is ready to step in and fill the void?
The United States is the destination that’s been bandied about most prominently and given the manner in which the FBI have tracked the paeans in Zurich, there’s plenty who’d agree that the country certainly deserve it! In addition, if Qatar was to be stripped of the showpiece, then the nation which finished second in the initial bidding process certainly have a great case.
In terms of infrastructure, the United States of America would also be ideal. The stadia is state of the art, the transport links are seamless and given requisite notice, the country could make this event into a major soccer extravaganza, as was obvious by the professionalism of their initial submission. The sport’s popularity is on a major upturn too, meaning that in terms of financial gains from sponsorships and endorsement, it’d be a lucrative occasion for FIFA.
If there was to be an entire re-running of the polling process, there are plenty of other nations that’d be keen on throwing their hat into the ring. Australia was an unsuccessful bidder for the tournament and a World Cup staged Down Under would fit in with FIFA’s intentions of taking the event to far corners of the planet.
Australia have also proven their mettle for hosting major sporting events, with Olympics held in Sydney back in 2000, the Rugby World Cup in 2003, while earlier this year, the Asian Soccer Cup was held there, a tournament which the Socceroos won. As such, as is the case with the United States, there’s also a festering love for the game.
But most of the major venues in the country are primarily tailored for cricket, rugby and Australian Rules Football, all who have seasons that run during the months a World Cup would take typically take place.
What about following suit from the Africa Cup of Nations and look to a previous venue?That tournament was hosted in Equatorial Guinea for the second successive time earlier this year after Morocco pulled out.
However, Brazil was struggling to cope with the demands of a major tournament in 2014 and with Olympics scheduled to be held in Rio de Janeiro in the summer of 2016, another World Cup would probably be a step too far.
Maybe England? As the home of soccer, there’d certainly be a sense of pageantry associated with soccer coming home and the first hosting of the sport’s biggest occasion on English soil for the first time since 1966. Again, like the United States, with the facilities in place it’s a nation that would be capable of putting on the show almost at the drop of a hat, but England didn’t actually lodge a bid for the 2022 World Cup, choosing to focus their attentions on 2018.
Of course, at this stage, these wonderings are merely conjecture. The potential legal connotations that’d come with stripping Qatar of a World Cup would be unfathomably complicated from various standpoints. As aforementioned, this process is set to be drawn out, turbulent and almost certain to conjure plenty more shocking moments yet.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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