Stung by ongoing criticism of the system to choose World Cup hosts, FIFA President Sepp Blatter stripped the executive committee of its power on Wednesday and gave every federation a vote on future decisions.
Blatter offered the concession at the FIFA Congress ahead of his re-election among a series of reforms to make world football’s governing body more transparent.
”It was the (awarding) of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups which kicked off the wave of criticism which are still coming,” Blatter said. ”They concentrated on the World Cup because it is not just the economic value but the social and political value of the World Cup.”
After Blatter’s proposal on Wednesday morning, the 208 federations later approved the change and it now just has to be rubber-stamped.
”Is it correct that the executive committee determines the World Cup?” Blatter said. ”We should give more power to the associations. I want the organization of the World Cup to be decided by the FIFA Congress. The executive committee will create a shortlist and make no recommendations, only a list and the Congress will decide on the venue.”
However, the next vote – for the 2026 World Cup hosts – might not be until 2018. By then, Blatter’s fourth and final four-year term will have ended.
The FIFA Congress decided on the World Cup hosts until 1974 when the power was given to the executive committee to decide the location of the 1986 event.
Qatar was the surprise choice of the executive committee for the 2022 event in December’s vote despite the official FIFA inspectors raising concerns about the intense summer heat in the desert nation and the lack of existing venues.
Blatter spoke after Germany called for a review of the Qatar vote to scrutinize corruption allegations.
German federation President Theo Zwanziger said the awarding of the tournament to Qatar raised ”speculations and corruption allegations” and should be examined ”more precisely.”
”In my opinion, this awarding of the World Cup should be re-examined,” Zwanziger said.
Qatar has been forced to regularly dismiss claims it paid bribes to voters. The latest denial came after a leaked email from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke suggested Qatar ”bought” the World Cup, although he later said he was referring to the financial might behind the country’s campaign.
FIFA’s official report also questioned the transport and infrastructure in Qatar, concerns also raised about the victorious 2018 bid from Russia.
England, which Blatter had said was the best equipped country to host the event and would have been the most lucrative, earned just two votes – with one coming from its own representative on the executive committee.
Before the vote, Blatter warned the committee members about the ”evils” of the English media, which had been investigating FIFA corruption.
After England’s defeat, the acting chairman of The Football Association said he didn’t want the job permanently, with Roger Burden saying he could no longer trust FIFA.
”We are confident The FA has played a significant role as a catalyst for change in the way World Cup hosts will be selected in the future,” Burden’s successor, David Bernstein, said after Blatter’s announcement. ”This must be a more open transparent process.”