Russia and Qatar could lose the 2018 and 2022 World Cups if irregularities are proven in them being awarded the hosting rights, a Fifa official told a Swiss newspaper published on Sunday.
"If evidence exists that Qatar and Russia received the (World Cup) awards only thanks to bribes, then the awards could be annulled," head of Fifa's auditing and compliance committee Domenico Scala told the Sonntagszeitung Weekly. He stressed though that "this evidence has not been provided" so far.
His comments are the first by a senior Fifa official to even open up the possibility of either Russia or Qatar not hosting the football showpiece in the wake of recent scandals that have engulfed football's world governing body.
Scala's comments come amid a corruption scandal engulfing football's world governing body. It centers around 14 current or former Fifa officials and sports marketing executives accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks scheme going back 20 years, involving a total of $150 million in bribes.
The scandal, which also involves a Swiss probe into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, has led to the resignation of long serving Fifa president Sepp Blatter last week, just four days after his re-election for a fifth successive term.
Britain said on Thursday that it was ready to step in and hold the 2022 World Cup if it was taken away from Qatar, whose hosting has consistently been dogged by controversy. Late last month, FIFA ruled out a re-vote for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, insisting the hosts would not change.