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U.S. ‘favorite’ 2022 World Cup host after Qatar

‘Slush fund’ scandal: Bookmakers give 2/1 odds the U.S. will host competition, amid corruption allegations over Qatar’s bid

Thomas El-Basha

Published: Updated:

The United States is favorite to host the 2022 World Cup after Qatar, UK bookmakers say, following calls for the Gulf state to be stripped of the tournament if widespread corruption allegations prove to be true.

The UK’s Sunday Times this week revealed a “bombshell” cache of millions of leaked emails and documents, some of which showed that Mohammad Bin Hammam, Qatar’s former top football official, allegedly paid $5 million to help raise the Gulf state’s chances of hosting the tournament.

Hammam, who at the time of was an executive member of FIFA, had allegedly used slush funds to pay out the cash to top football officials to win a “groundswell” of support for Qatar’s bid to host the international sporting event.

Several prominent figures have called for a rerun of the bidding process should the allegations be proven – meaning that the FIFA World Cup could be held in another location.

According to odds provided by UK bookmaker William Hill, the most likely country to host the event after Qatar is the United States (2/1), followed by South Korea (6/1), Japan (7/1), Australia (10/1) and finally England (12/1).

READ MORE: Probe into Qatar’s World Cup bid ends next week
READ MORE: Leaked emails: Qatar’s $5m World Cup bribe
READ MORE: Red flags: Leaked emails suggest Qatar World Cup ‘slush funds’

The United States, a previous World Cup host, was one of more than a dozen countries to enter the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. It later withdrew from the race for the 2018 edition to focus on its efforts on winning to latter event. Australia, Japan, South Korea were bidders for the 2022 edition.

England also participated in the bidding process for the 2018 tournament, while Belgium and the Netherlands entered a joint bid. Russia eventually won the rights to host the 2018 World Cup.

Despite calls for a possible rerun of the bidding process, UK bookmakers still say Qatar is the most likely destination for the 2022 World Cup.

Ladbrokes told Al Arabiya News that it was still “odds-on” and therefore likely that the World Cup would remain in Qatar in 2022. The odds for it being hosted in the Qatar is 4/6 and the odds against are 11/10.

Yet several have urged a full investigation into the corruption allegations surrounding Qatar’s bid, meaning the possibility of the tourament moving to another location cannot be ruled out.

Greg Dyke, the chairman of the Football Association, is among several figures in the sport to have called for a re-run of the 2022 World Cup bidding process if the allegations in the Sunday Times are proven.

“I thought the piece was remarkable, it clearly has to be investigated as a matter of urgency by FIFA and if it is shown that the process was corrupted there needs to be a whole discussion of whether you allow Qatar to hold the tournament,” he told BBC Radio 4's Today program Monday.

READ MORE: Probe into Qatar’s World Cup bid ends next week
READ MORE: Leaked emails: Qatar’s $5m World Cup bribe
READ MORE: Red flags: Leaked emails suggest Qatar World Cup ‘slush funds’

FIFA officials have also said that the location of the event needs to be reconsidered if the allegation turned out to be true.

Lord Goldsmith, Britain's former Attorney General and member of FIFA's Independent Governance Committee, said football’s world governing body needed to “to produce a convincing and transparent answer to these allegations.”

“I believe that if these allegations are shown to be true, then the hosting decision for Qatar has to be rerun,” he also told BBC radio on Monday.

“I don't see how if it is proved, it is not proved yet though there is a case to answer, if it is proved, that the decision to give Qatar the World Cup was procured by frankly one can describe it in no other way as bribery and improper influence, then that decision ought not to stand,” he said.

According to the Sunday Times, Michael Garcia, FIFA’s ethics prosecutor, has received the new evidence to help in his investigation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding contests.

FIFA's ethics prosecutors said on Monday the findings of its investigation into the World Cup bid from Qatar will be completed by next week and a report on the findings will be submitted six weeks later.

The Qatari organizers of the 2022 World Cup have denied allegations of wrongdoing.

Held every four years, the World Cup is regarded as the most popular sporting event in the world.