American and Swiss investigations into the award of the World Cup to Russia are unlikely to lead to the 2018 hosts being stripped of the event, U.S. and European media have reported.
Prosecutors in New York and Zurich are examining whether there were irregularities in the awarding of the rights to hold the 2018 finals and the 2022 competition, which was awarded to Qatar.
The examination of the bidding process is part of a broader probe into Fifa that led to the arrest in May of nine football officials, including several people who had served on the Fifa executive committee. They are all charged with various corruption-related offences, including money laundering and fraud.
But Swiss officials are not expected to unearth any evidence that would cast doubt on Russia’s suitability to host the 2018 finals.
Investigation into the Russian bid was not helped by the destruction of the the computers used by its World Cup bid committee.
In a statement in response to questions from Reuters, the media office of the Russia 2018 local organizing committee, said that the computers and other equipment had been leased, and once the process was complete ithey were returned to their owner. “The computers became obsolete and were discarded by their owner,” it said.
The committee also said that the Russian bid was successful because of “the excellence of the concept” presented. The bid team, it said, always operated “in full compliance with the spirit and letter of FIFA’s Code of Ethics.”
The Russian government and Fifa officials have always suggested that the investigations are the result of sour grapes by countries whose bids failed to land the World Cup. England was unsuccessful in its bid for the 2018 tournament and the U.S. and Australia in its bid for 2022.
In the U.S., the FBI and federal prosecutors in New York are continuing their own investigations into alleged Fifa-related corruption, including examining how Russia was successful in its bid for the 2018 World Cup, sources said.
Prosecutors based in Brooklyn, New York, who are leading the U.S. investigation, declined to comment.