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FIFA official: Russia and Qatar could lose World Cups

A FIFA official has said Russia and Qatar could lose the right to host upcoming World Cups, if bribery is established in the bidding process. Both nations have denied wrongdoing in their bids.

Russia and Qatar could be stripped of their World Cup hosting duties if irregularities are proven in the process that awarded the two countries the rights, said Domenico Scala, the head of FIFA's auditing and compliance committee.

Swiss authorities are looking into alleged corruption around the two World Cup votes, for 2018 and 2022, amid a scandal that has also raised questions about the 2010 event in South Africa.

Separately, a US probe has seen the arrests of a number of FIFA officials on corruption charges. They are accused of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks scheme going back 20 years, involving some $150 million (135 million euros) in bribes.

"Should there be evidence that the award to Russia and Qatar was made only because of bought votes, then the award could be annulled," Scala told the Swiss "Sonntagszeitung" newspaper on Sunday.

"This evidence has not been provided," he added. Both nations have denied wrongdoing in the conduct of their bids.

Bribery claims mounting

The investigations have thrown the football world into turmoil, and have seen the resignation of long-serving president Sepp Blatter last week, just days after winning a fifth term in the top job.

Blatter himself has not been charged with any wrongdoing. However, bribery claims are mounting against former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, who was arrested on May 29 at the request of US authorities. He is free on bail.

Accusations surfaced on Sunday that Warner had sought a $7-million bribe from Egypt for votes in the bidding process for the 2010 World Cup, and that he took a $10 million payment from South Africa, the eventual host.

Warner, a 72-year-old former justice minister from Trinidad, has denied any wrongdoing.

jr/cmk (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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