In light of recent revelations of endemic bribery and corruption its difficult to trust anything that world soccer governing body FIFA says.
That being as it may, a key FIFA official said on the weekend that Russia and Qatar could be stripped of their World Cup hosting privileges if evidence emerges of bribery in the bidding process. The comments were made by Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, to a Swiss newspaper.
But such a sanction would amount to a multi-billion dollar financial punishment and Scala has been a member of FIFA during the recent corruption, so it remains doubtful this measure would be taken.
The comments follow the disclosure by an FBI official that the agency is investigating how exactly football's governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar.
"If evidence should emerge that the awards to Qatar and Russia only came about thanks to bought votes, then the awards could be invalidated," Scala said in an interview published on Sunday.
"This evidence has not yet been brought forth."
Russia and Qatar have predictably denied wrongdoing in the conduct of their bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, though both countries, and Russia in particular, are known for endemic corruption.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said this week that he supported Qatar hosting the 2022 tournament but said Britain would work with another country if FIFA re-opened the bidding process.
Just what would happen if each country were to be stripped is a mystery, given the massive logistical effort required to host the massive tournament. There are only a few countries that could host the event on such short notice, making the reality of actually voiding a hosting agreement slim.