FIFA finds probe into decision to pick Russia as 2018 FIFA World Cup host ‘thorough’
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  • 07:34 31 October 2019

FIFA finds probe into decision to pick Russia as 2018 FIFA World Cup host ‘thorough’

The world’s governing football body, FIFA, has conducted a thorough investigation and found no violations regarding the right of Russia to host the 2018 World Cup, a FIFA spokesperson told TASS on Wednesday, ONA reports citing TASS.

The Insider website announced on October 29, citing Telegram channel Black Mirror as its source, that the Russian Local Organizing Committee, LOC-2018, compiled a dossier on FIFA officials, who could have been allegedly bribed to vote in favor of Russia winning the bid to host the global quadrennial football championship last year.

The documents, which were made public by the website, alleged that positive votes of particular FIFA officials could have been secured in advance in exchange for financial bonuses.

"Generally speaking concerning the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bidding process, as you are aware, a thorough investigation was conducted by Michael Garcia [independent Chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee] and his conclusions are available in the report, which has been published on FIFA.com," the spokesperson said.

FIFA published its report in June 2017 on its findings into allegations that the Russian side unduly influenced the bidding result for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

According to the FIFA’s June 2017 statement: "the overall inquiry was led by Mr. Michael Garcia, independent Chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee and Dr. Cornel Borbely, independent Deputy Chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee."

In its conclusion to the 39-page-long report "On Issues Related to the Russian Bid Team," the FIFA stated in particular in June 2017 that: "(1) No evidence of collusion of Russian Bid with another bid committee or member association; (2) Only partial compliance with reporting requirements on contact made with FIFA ExCo (Executive Committee) Members; (3) No violation of FIFA Rules of Conduct on gifts, grant of benefits or development assistance; (4) No undue influence exerted on FIFA ExCo Members in an attempt to secure votes."

Alexei Sorokin, the CEO of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Local Organizing Committee (LOC), in a comment to TASS on Wednesday, castigated the recent allegations regarding Russia’s winning bid to host the global football championship as "ungrounded."

"We [Russia] took part in various discussions, answered numerous questions and were subjected to multiple investigations," Sorokin said in an interview with TASS. "It is somehow strange that we always end up in the focus of different probes."

"We maintain our stance that Russia obtained the right to host the [2018 FIFA] World Cup honestly in an absolutely transparent situation," he continued.

"We have always been open for any questions and have always been reporting on all developments during the bidding campaign and in the build-up to the championship," Sorokin claimed.

"This is why it looks very strange for us to see this sort of interest as to how Russia was granted the right to host the World Cup," Sorokin continued. "We view all suspicions in regard to how we won the right to host the World Cup as totally ungrounded."

Russia won the bid to host the 2018 World Cup at the FIFA Congress in Guatemala on December 4, 2010. The victory came following a tight race against the bid from England, the joint bid from Portugal and Spain and the joint bid on behalf of Belgium and the Netherlands.

The country hosted its first-ever FIFA World Cup in 2018, which kicked off in Moscow with a remarkable opening show at Luzhniki Stadium on the evening of June 14 and ended with a spectacular final match, played also at the Luzhniki Stadium, where France defeated Croatia 4-2 to win the much-coveted World Cup Trophy.

Russia provided 11 host cities across the country as the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup — Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.

FIFA President Infantino later commended the world championship in Russia as "the best World Cup ever." According to the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism, some 2.9 million foreign visitors arrived in Russia for the FIFA World Cup.

In late December 2018, FIFA announced in its statement that the World Cup in Russia set a new record of audience in the history of world football championships as over half of the world’s population watched matches on TV at home, out of home or on digital platforms.

In March 2015, FIFA officially announced that the 22nd edition of FIFA’s flagship event would be played in November and December 2022, with the final match set for December 18, 2022 — Qatar National Day — and with the objective, in principle, of holding the tournament for 28 days.

Qatar is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup between November 21 and December 18 at seven venues across the country, namely in Doha, Lusail, Al-Wakrah, Al-Khor, Al-Rayyan, Umm Salal and Madinat ash Shamal.

Faig Mahmudov

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