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FIFA postpones 2026 World Cup bidding amid corruption charges

In the wake of a widespread corruption investigation, FIFA has postponed the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup. Starting the bidding process now would be "nonsense," said the organization's head.

World football's governing body said it had been forced to suspend the start of the bidding process for the tournament, to be held in just over a decade, in the wake of a damaging investigation into retrospective corruption allegations.

FIFA has been through a number of scandals in recent years, the most recent of which saw several past and present FIFA executives arrested in a luxury Swiss hotel just over a week ago. FIFA President Sepp Blatter unexpectedly announced his intention to resign last Tuesday as a result of investigations instigated by the United States - days after winning his fifth term in the role.

The organization had planned to contact all 209 member federations to clarify the bidding timetable and rules. The 2026 host had been expected to be chosen at a meeting in Malaysia in 2017. The United States, Mexico, Canada and several European countries were all in the running.

FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said "due to the situation," it would be "nonsense" to begin the process now.

On Monday, the head of FIFA's auditing and compliance committee, Domenico Scala, warned Russia and Qatar could potentially lose their rights to host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022 if it was proven that any irregularities occurred during the bidding process.

This was quickly dismissed by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko at Wednesday's press conference, saying the awarding of the cup to Moscow was done completely within the rules.

Valcke, who had been in the Russian city of Samara to view how preparations for the cup were going, echoed this statement.

Choosing Blatter's successor

FIFA also announced that an executive committee meeting will be held "in July, the precise date to be confirmed within this week." The gathering is to discuss when an elective congress can be held, to decide on who will take over as FIFA's new president.

Current president Sepp Blatter announced his resignation last week after serving in the top job for close to two decades. There has been talk Blatter may also be questioned over the US-led corruption investigation.

Prior to easily winning a presidential election at the end of last month, Blatter had promised to restore FIFA's reputation, emphasizing his experience at managing one of the most powerful sports organizations.

Blatter had speculated his replacement would be elected between December and March of next year. Rules require an election to be held four months after the deadline for candidates to register.

an/sms (AP, Reuters)

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