England 'could host' 2022 World Cup – but should not

Divisive calls for Qatar to lose tournament should be put to one side until dust settles on Fifa crisis

Germany win the World Cup
Germany celebrate after winning the World Cup final against Argentina at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The Germans won the final 1-0 thanks to an extra time goal from Mario Gotze.
(Image credit: Getty)

England is ready to host the 2022 World Cup if Qatar is stripped of the tournament in the wake of the corruption scandal at Fifa - but doing so could be damaging to efforts to reform Fifa.

Culture secretary John Whittingdale told Parliament: "We have the facilities in this country and of course we did mount a very impressive, if unsuccessful, bid to host the 2018 World Cup."

His comments came as he fielded questions from MPs about the unfolding crisis at Fifa. When asked about the situation regarding the Qatar World Cup, he said: "We are watching the investigation, but at the moment that decision stands".

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He added that it would be "very unlikely" for another European country to be asked to step in, as Russia is hosting the 2018 tournament.

That echoed previous comments from FA Chairman Greg Dyke who said earlier in the week that the organisers of the tournament in Qatar would not be feeling "comfortable" after the resignation of Sepp Blatter on Tuesday.

Dyke suggested that if the 2022 tournament were to be moved the US, who were runners up to Qatar in the vote, would be favourites. However, Australia, who also bid first time round, are also interested in running again.

However, not everyone believes talk of rerunning the World Cup bidding process is healthy. Writing in The Guardian, Barney Ronay expressed concerns about the way Europe is handling the crisis.

"Post-Blatter there is a fear outside Uefa and North America of a Euro-centred power grab," he says. "The worst possible outcome now is to convey to the rest of the world that this is all about sour grapes over the award of a World Cup... For this reason calls to strip Qatar of its tournament should be muted until there is absolute, unarguable evidence of a corrupt vote."

That view was echoed by Rory Smith of The Times. He said on Twitter: "Every time a politician says England could host the 2018/22 WC, Blatter's argument he was deposed because of sour grapes is strengthened... It detracts from everything that's been done, deepens divides and makes genuine change harder."

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