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Russia and Qatar, hosts of the next two soccer World Cup tournaments, could be disqualified from holding the games if evidence of bribery emerges, says a senior FIFA official.
Domenico Scala, head of FIFA's auditing and compliance committee, told Swiss newspaper Sonntagszeitung at the weekend that the countries, which will hold the 2018 and 2022 events respectively, would lose their privileges if he discovered that their selection was the result of bribery.
However, he added that no evidence has yet been found.
This is the latest development in the FIFA scandal, which began in May when seven FIFA officials were arrested by U.S. authorities. So far, 14 people have been indicted with charges of racketeering and money laundering. They have been accused of receiving more than $150 million in bribes over 24 years.
U.S. and Swiss authorities are separately investigating the football organisation's bidding process for corruption.
If either country does lose its hosting privileges, a several countries have already put their names forward as possible replacements.
Last week, U.K. culture secretary John Whittingdale told the House of Commons that the country, which unsuccessfully bid for the 2018 games, has the facilities to host the event if asked to do so by FIFA.
Though he added it was unlikely to happen: if Russia keeps the 2018 World Cup, another European country would not be given the 2022 event.
Meanwhile, Australian sports minister John Eren claimed his country was prepared to host the games in 2022. He told newspapers: "(Australian city) Victoria has the best stadiums in the world — and unlike other cities, we can fill them. We could stage the World Cup at a moment's notice, all we need are the goalposts.''
The U.S. is another possible replacement. Just like Australia, the U.S. applied to host the 2022 games during the bidding process in 2010 and has the necessary infrastructure.
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