Giving England the World Cup would send out a signal

Morning View
Morning View

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale has said that England is ready to host the 2022 World Cup if Qatar is stripped of the tournament.

Mr Whittingdale said that, if there is evidence the bid process was corrupt, “the case for re-running it is very strong”.

If Qatar now loses the cup, for which it is has been preparing for several years, it will have been a massively expensive waste of money for the tiny oil state.

But, if the corruption allegations are accurate, such a dramatic and major loss by a bidder will play an important role in cleaning up the bidding process.

Countries will be wary in future about spending huge sums on bribes to secure the World Cup.

Even if Qatar does lose the cup, which would be unprecedented, it is thought that England would struggle to get the replacement rights so soon after another European country, Russia, has hosted the 2018 event.

But while such a move would be unconventional, England has a very strong claim to being named as a replacement host. It is one of the most important footballing nations in the world, with the prestige and facilities to match, yet it hasn’t hosted a World Cup in more than half a century (Germany has had two tournaments since 1974).

Giving the event to England would be important symbolically. Brave British journalism did the bulk of the work in exposing the murky goings-on at Fifa. That journalism may even have cost England its hosting rights.

We wait to see where the current criminal investigations will lead but, in the meantime, pressure must be kept on Fifa from all fronts.

The English footballing authorities need to lobby for support for a possible World Cup boycott, if things do not improve at Fifa. And the government should consider shadow attorney general Lord Bach’s call for the Serious Fraud Office to get all the funding it needs to carry out a full probe into Fifa corruption.