England are now favourites to host the 2018 World Cup amid speculation that Russia and Qatar could be stripped of hosting rights following the arrests of senior FIFA officials in Switzerland today.
There has been renewed calls that the controversial bidding process for the next two instalments of the international football tournament should be re-run. Although, it is still a long shot at this stage that the host nations will be replaced. Walter de Gregorio, FIFA’s director of communications, reiterated today that “the World Cup’s in 2018 and 2022 will be played in Russia and Qatar”.
However, a separate investigation has been launched into the allocation of the tournaments. Should new hosts be found for the next World Cup, which takes place in three years time, England would be the favourites to host it – due to the majority of infrastructure already being in place, and having already hosted a successful Olympic games.
Odds issued by Paddy Power make England the 11/10 favourites to host the 2018 World Cup if Russia are stripped of the rights. Portugal and Spain are the second favourites at 5/4 and Belgium and Netherlands are third at 9/2.
Swiss authorities conducted an early-morning operation in Zurich, to arrest several top soccer officials and extradite them to the United States on federal corruption charges. As leaders of FIFA gathered for their annual meeting, more than a dozen plain-clothed Swiss law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Baur au Lac hotel to make the arrests which were carried out peacefully.
The charges, backed by an FBI investigation, allege widespread corruption in FIFA over the past two decades, involving bids for World Cup tournaments as well as marketing and broadcast deals.