FIFA confirm Qatar could lose 2022 World Cup
Published 23:01 28/07/11 By Martin Lipton in Rio De Janeiro
FIFA president Sepp Blatter is ready to launch a probe that could strip Qatar of the 2022 World Cup.
Allegations of bribery and the safety fears of playing in 50 degree heat have dogged FIFA since December's controversial vote to give the World Cup to a desert state the size of Wales.
Qatar's Mohammed Bin Hammam - Blatter's rival for the Presidency until he was suspended in May - was booted out of FIFA over the corruption charges last week.
And now Blatter revealed he is prepared to sanction an investigation into Qatar's win which would open the way to the decision being rescinded and a new host for the tournament being found.
Blatter believes his new "Solutions Committee", which will include Johan Cruyff, Henry Kissinger and Palcido Domingo, will prove he is serious about cleaning up the game and he said: "Now, at this moment, we are not touching the Qatar World Cup.
"But we are going step by step into the matters we have to realise and if somewhere through this Solutions Committee they should say we have to have a look at that, then we will do that."
Germany's newly-elected FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger and major sponsors Adidas have suggested the 2022 decision should be re-opened and Blatter added: "When I spoke with Zwanziger he realised it's too easy to say we should re-open things.
"He knows he has to first come to FIFA with the evidence and everybody must produce evidence.
"Concerning the sponsors, I haven't received any let's say, reservations, made by any sponsor of FIFA that we should change anything with Qatar - yet."
Blatter, in Rio ahead of tomorrow's draw for the preliminary stage of the 2014 World Cup, could not have made a more obvious threat.
Even if the 2022 tournament does not get moved, the FIFA chief is worried about the genuine dangers to players.
Qatar have reacted angrily to suggestions from UEFA President Michel Platini for the tournament to be switched to December or January on health and safety grounds.
Such a move would cause uproar among the major European clubs, whose season would be disrupted, but Blatter put the idea back on the table.
He said: "I know the problems but we are not yet in 2022 and we have not yet agreed the exact programme there.
"You know how the President of UEFA reacted after the decision.
"For the time-being, nobody has asked to change anything, neither the organisation in Qatar nor the FA there, so for the time-being the Qatar World Cup is not touched and the basic is that it will be played in June and July.
"But it is a possibility that could change. It's not my decision. It has to come from the Qataris to ask to change something. For the time-being they haven't done that."