Former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter says he is shocked at a rule which has been inserted into the World Cup bidding process that could allow a five-man task force to disqualify a candidate before a democratic vote is held.
In 2011 the FIFA Congress, where each of the global soccer body’s 211 member associations hold one vote, was given the right to choose the World Cup hosts following a change proposed by Blatter while he was president.
The first hosting decision since then will be in June at the Congress in Moscow, where only two bids are in the running – a joint proposal from the United States/Canada/Mexico and one from Morocco.
However, the two bids must first pass a technical inspection from a five-man task force, which has the power to disqualify a candidate whose proposal is seen as not up to scratch.
Blatter, who was banned for six years in 2015 for unethical conduct but has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and believes he can get the suspension reversed, told Reuters that both candidates should have the right to present their bids to Congress.
The Swiss said he was concerned “that there is a movement” where a “special task force” will be given power “to decide who will be a candidate or not”. He added: “That is not possible.”
“You cannot deny one of the candidates (the chance) to go to Congress. This is a principle and I stick to this principle… I was shocked.”
Before 2011, World Cup hosting was decided by FIFA’s executive committee, which had 24 members at the time.
But the previous bidding process, for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, became embroiled in allegations of illegitimate attempts to influence the committee’s voting members.
The finals were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively at the same time after a vote in December 2010. A subsequent FIFA investigation detailed numerous attempts to influence the voting officials but there was no suggestion the race should be re-run.