PARIS (Reuters) - European soccer chief Michel Platini, one of the most prominent figures to vote four years ago to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, has called for the vote to be held again if allegations of corruption in Qatar’s bid are proved.
World soccer governing body FIFA is investigating the bids that awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar and the 2018 Cup to Russia, including allegations that bribes were paid to secure the Qatari bid. A former U.S. prosecutor is due to deliver a report in July, about a week after the end of the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, which could see Qatar stripped of the Cup.
“Should corruption be proven, it will take a new vote and sanctions,” Platini, a French former soccer legend who now heads European soccer governing body UEFA, told sports daily L‘Equipe, the first time he has backed potentially moving the Cup.
Qatar’s 2022 bid has long been under fire because the tiny country has no soccer tradition, few domestic fans and summer temperatures of more than 50 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) during the months when the World Cup is played.
This week, Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper published what it said were excerpts from leaked emails and financial accounts showing millions of pounds were spent in bribes to persuade soccer officials to vote for Qatar’s bid.
Qatar’s bid team denies the accusations.
In his interview, Platini defended his decision to back the Qatari bid at the vote in 2010: “I do not regret anything, I think it was the right choice for FIFA and for world football.”
Qatar beat rival bids from Australia, Japan, the United States and South Korea to stage the 2022 World Cup.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Peter Graff