FIFA said it has “no legal grounds” to take the 2018 World Cup from Russia or the 2022 World Cup from Qatar in a statement released Monday, according to CNN.
The statement comes shortly after a FIFA compliance official told a Swiss newspaper that Russia and Qatar could be stripped of their World Cup hosting rights if evidence of bribery or other corruption emerges.
The compliance official, Domenico Scala, said that evidence “has not yet been brought forth” suggesting bribery in the bidding process.
“Russia and Qatar were awarded the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups by democratic vote of the Executive Committee,” FIFA said on Monday. “Based on expert opinions and available facts, FIFA has no legal grounds to take away the hosting of the FIFA World Cup from Russia and Qatar.”
The ongoing FIFA corruption investigation does not focus on the bidding for the 2018 or 2022 tournaments, though a separate Swiss investigation is reportedly looking into the bid process for those tournaments. Earlier World Cup bids have, however, been targeted with allegations that bribery played a role.
Last year, FIFA commissioned an investigation into the bidding process of both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The report cleared both Russia and Qatar of serious wrongdoing.
- Molly Geary