Jerome Champagne: Give USA 2022 World Cup if Qatar is stripped
GENEVA (AP) — The United States should directly get to host the 2022 World Cup if Qatar is stripped of the tournament, according to FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne.
The 2018 and 2022 bidding contests are under scrutiny by Switzerland's attorney general who is investigating suspected money laundering, and American federal prosecutors' wider probe of corruption in FIFA business that includes World Cup bids.
Champagne told French radio station RTL on Tuesday that FIFA should give hosting rights to the second-place bidder if corruption is proven linked to Qatar's win.
"It should not be a revote but apply the IOC's legal precedent, giving the gold medal to the silver medalist," the former FIFA international relations director said.
Qatar won the December 2010 vote of FIFA executive committee members in a five-bidder contest, finally beating the Americans 14-8 in the last round.
"The presumption of innocence must also go to the Qataris," insisted Champagne, who was forced out of his FIFA job months before the hosting votes by rivals of Sepp Blatter.
Champagne is competing in the Feb. 26 election to succeed his former boss Blatter with Prince Ali of Jordan, Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, Gianni Infantino of Switzerland and Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa.
A supporter of keeping the World Cup as a 32-team event, Champagne criticized the "totally electioneering proposals" of his opponents to expand it to 40 teams for 2026 and distribute hundreds of millions of dollars more from FIFA reserves.
Champagne is the only candidate due in Brussels on Wednesday to meet with European lawmakers for an event originally planned as a debate of all five.
Also Tuesday, a German court confirmed details of a civil case brought by Qatari officials against former FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger.
The hearing in Duesseldorf is scheduled for next Tuesday.
The Qatari case seeks to prevent Zwanziger, who was a FIFA delegate elected by UEFA members from 2011-2015, repeating a comment it interpreted as calling the Gulf nation a "cancer" on the sport.
Zwanziger has said his words were directed not against a person or Qatari institution, but FIFA's system of awarding the 2022 World Cup and the choice of Qatar.