BRUSSELS (AFP) – British Prime Minister David Cameron hinted on Thursday that England would be ready to stage the 2022 World Cup if Qatar loses it because of corruption allegations.
FIFA has faced calls for a new vote on the 2022 World Cup host bid and launched an investigation as a graft row over Qatar’s winning bid intensified.
Asked at a news conference at the end of the G7 rich nations club in Brussels about whether England would be ready to step in, Cameron said: “On the issue of football, we should let the investigation run its course.
“But of course, England is the home of football, as it’s the home and inventor of many sports, tennis, rugby, golf, skiing, table tennis, cricket.”
At this point US President Barack Obama — who was the joint host of the press conference — jokingly butted in: “Baseball, basketball.”
A laughing Cameron then added: “But, we’re always happy to provide a home for these sports.”
Qatar has denied allegations by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper that Mohamed bin Hammam, a former FIFA vice president from Qatar, paid more than $5 million to football officials around the world before the 2010 vote that awarded the 2022 contest to the Gulf state.
Qatar has vowed to “defend the integrity of its bid.”
The decision to give the World Cup to Qatar, a small Gulf peninsula with little football history, has also provoked widespread condemnation because it will be held in the emirate’s broiling hot summer.
FIFA boss Sepp Blatter said in May that it was a mistake to choose Qatar because of the summer desert heat and wants the tournament switched to the northern hemisphere winter, for the first time, to get round the problem.