Still reeling from a corruption scandal that has ensnared some of its top officials and led to the resignation of its president, FIFA said it was delaying the bidding process on the 2026 World Cup.
“Due to the situation, I think it’s nonsense to start any bidding process for the time being,” Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general, said during a news conference on Wednesday.
In a separate statement, FIFA said the organization’s executive committee will discuss the process at a later date.
“The vote to decide who will host the 2026 World Cup is due to take place in Kuala Lumpur in May 2017.
“The United States are front-runners to stage the tournament, but Canada, Mexico and Colombia are also thought to be interested. Russia and Qatar were selected to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups by a secret ballot of Fifa’s 22 executive members in December 2010.
“But Swiss prosecutors are now investigating alleged financial irregularities surrounding the bidding process. Both Russia and Qatar have denied any wrongdoing.”
Bloomberg reports that during the news conference, Valcke was defensive. If you remember, Valcke was not named in the U.S. bribery investigation, but subsequent reporting linked him to a $10 million payment that was allegedly part of a bribe to help South Africa secure the right to host the 2010 World Cup.
Wednesday’s news conference was Valcke’s first since those reports surfaced, and he said he had done no wrong. Bloomberg adds:
“The money involved came from South African authorities and not FIFA, and the transfer was in line with FIFA regulations, Valcke said.
” ‘You have decided that after [Sepp] Blatter I am the head to be cut, fine, but don’t use this $10 million because I haven’t made any mistake with this,’ he said.”