United States Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati has denied a report that the U.S. was told by FIFA to be ready to host the 2022 World Cup if Qatar does not.
Recent controversy surrounding allegations of corruption in the 2010 FIFA vote that awarded Qatar the World Cup may cause the country to lose the rights to host the event.
The main issue with Qatar's bid is that Qatari billionaire Mohamed bin Hammam has been accused of bribing FIFA officials and colluding with Russian officials—Russia won the 2018 World Cup—according to The Sunday Times, via The New York Times.
Jorge Ramos of ESPN, via ESPN's Roger Bennett, previously reported the tournament could be awarded to the United States, which finished second in the 2010 vote, in that scenario. The report has since been removed:
It is happening @ESPN_JorgeRamos reports FIFA ask US Soccer to have organizing comittee ready if 2022 WC is not in Qatar— roger bennett (@rogbennett) June 12, 2014
Here's Gulati's response, per Sam Borden of The New York Times:
Just spoke to Gulati, who is president of US Soccer and FIFA ExCo member. Could not have been more forceful in saying no approach made.— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) June 12, 2014
Sunil Gulati, flatly denied FIFA has approached them re: '22 WC. "They haven't asked us and I cannot imagine it happening anytime soon."— Sam Borden (@SamBorden) June 12, 2014
Qatar's World Cup bid had its share of controversy from the beginning. Critics pointed to the intense heat of the region that could take temperatures to above 120 degrees Fahrenheit, dangerous conditions for soccer matches.
While the plan established in Qatar's bid called for fully air-conditioned stadiums, John Barrow of Populus claimed that such a project wouldn't be possible (via The Guardian), leading for many calls to move the World Cup to the winter months.
As well, the treatment of the migrant workers has been a major concern for human-rights activists, and a report for worker reform sanctioned by the country found that more than a worker a day was dying during the construction of the stadiums and buildings in preparation for the 2022 World Cup.
That report found that the kafala system should be outlawed, which in essence enslaves workers to a Qatari sponsor and doesn't allow them to leave the country without permission. The United Nations has also called on Qatari to abolish the system.
But it is the potential bribes that could cost Qatar its World Cup. FIFA has been investigating the claims, and a decision on how to proceed should be reached in the next two months. With sponsors such as Visa already advocating for swift action to be taken should the bribery accusations prove true, it remains very possible Qatar's bid could be nullified.
And it remains possible that the United States could end up as the 2022 hosts if that is the case.