LONDON: England could host the 2022 World Cup if it was stripped from Qatar following corruption allegations surrounding world governing body FIFA, Britain’s Culture, Media and Sport minister said on Thursday.
With England having made an unsuccessful bid to host the 2018 World Cup, which was awarded to Russia, John Whittingdale told parliament the country would be ready to step in if asked to do so by FIFA.
But as Russia will host the 2018 tournament, Whittingdale said it was unlikely FIFA would turn to another European country in the unlikely event that the 2022 World Cup was moved from Qatar.
“If it were decided to change that, I think as the chairman of the English FA observed, if Russia hosts the World Cup in 2018, it does seem very unlikely that another European country would host it in 2022,” he said.
“But obviously if FIFA came forward and asked us to consider hosting it, we have the facilities in this country and of course we did mount a very impressive, if unsuccessful, bid to host the 2018 World Cup.”
He added: “If there is evidence the bid process was corrupt then I think the case for re-running it is very strong.”
A Football Association spokesman said last week that England could “absolutely” stage the 2018 World Cup if asked.
But FA chairman Greg Dyke believes that if the 2022 tournament was stripped from Qatar, it would be more likely to go to a country outside Europe.
England last staged the World Cup in 1966, when the home nation won the tournament.
The joint-bidding contest for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups is currently being investigated by both Swiss and American authorities, but FIFA says it has no plans to re-open the process.
Organizers of the 2022 tournament, meanwhile, released a statement on Wednesday saying the events at FIFA “will not impact on our preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup”.
As part of the US probe into corruption allegations, former FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer has admitted to taking or handling bribes during the bidding processes for the 1998 and 2010 World Cups, which took place in France and South Africa respectively.