On Tuesday, FIFA President Sepp Blatter abruptly and unexpectedly announced that he will retire as head of the international soccer organization. Long plagued by corruption allegations, last week, the U.S. and Switzerland governments launched separate but parallel investigations into the claims, and already dozens of top FIFA officials have been indicted. Blatter's upcoming resignation could cause an upheaval in the institutionalized corruption structure within FIFA and many raised the possibility of moving the World Cup 2022 away from Qatar, whose successful hosting bid has been the subject of intense allegations of bribery.
The question is, can the World Cup change its host country after it's been determined? Though such a move is unprecedented, many media outlets are reporting that yes, Qatar may well lose its hosting status now that Blatter is out.
Why Qatar 2022?
Qatar is a tiny country in the gulf with some 2 million people, roughly the size of Connecticut state. Its bid to host the World Cup was rife with bribery allegations from the beginning. Many pointed out that the unforgiving Qatari heat and its less-than-illustrious soccer history made the small Arab nation a bizarre choice to host the world's most popular sporting event.
In 2011, Qatar's FIFA executive committee member, Mohammed bin Hammam, withdrew his bid for the FIFA presidency after allegations surfaced that he bribed 25 Caribbean representatives $1 million in total to support his campaign. He was eventually banned from soccer for life.
Qatar is now embroiled in a human rights scandal, accused of working migrant laborers to death in the rushed effort to build lavish stadiums ready for 2022.
The probe into FIFA's corruption scandal pushed the World Cup 2018 (in Russia) and 2022 back into view; many used Russia and Qatar's successful bids as examples of the organization's corruption at play — though, admittedly, Russia's bid made more sense than Qatar's.
Many people on social media renewed calls for relocating World Cup 2022 to the U.S., whose bid ultimately failed to Qatar's.
Blatter's resignation further challenged the legitimacy of both countries as World Cup hosts. "We can go back to looking at those two World Cups," Greg Dyke, England's Football Association chairman, said after Blatter's announcement. "If I were Qatar right now I wouldn't be feeling very comfortable."
[Cover image via Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images]