Ten days ago, when the FIFA scandal broke out, it took just a few hours to figure out what the US DOJ's motive was. The answer was simple: stripping the 2018 (and 2022) World Cup hosts, i.e., Russia (and to a lesser extent Qatar), of their respective hosting venues, and long before the Blatter's resigned we said:
What happens next? Sepp Blatter's reelection this coming Friday, which until yesterday had been guaranteed, is now virtually assured to fail as Putin's frontman at FIFA is shown the door.
What else likely happens? Following some dramatic procedural changes, Russia loses the hosting of the 2018 World Cup.
And moments after Blatter's unexpected resignation we doubled down:
And now Russia is stripped of the 2018 World Cup— zerohedge (@zerohedge) June 2, 2015
One day later, we learned that as the FIFA corruption scandal kept growing, the jaws surrounding Russia started to close following a report thatthe FBI had launched a probe into the Russia 2018 World Cup award.
There was just one thing missing: someone at FIFA admitting that the necessary and sufficient condition for Russia (if not so much Clinton Foundation donor Qatar) to be stripped of their hosting rights, would be evidence of bribery during the selection process. Which would be a low threshold indeed: if the past two weeks have confirmed it is that every single World Cup award stretching all the way back to France in 1998 and likely prior (such as the US in 1994) was as a result of illegal back-room dealings.
Today, the last missing piece finally fell into place, after Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA's audit and compliance committee, told a Swiss newspaper that Russia and Qatar could be stripped of their World Cup hosting rights if evidence emerges of bribery in the bidding process. From Reuters:
"If evidence should emerge that the awards to Qatar and Russia only came about thanks to bought votes, then the awards could be invalidated," Scala told SonntagsZeitung in an interview published on Sunday.
"This evidence has not yet been brought forth."
It shortly will be, even as both countries - as expected - have denied wrongdoing in the conduct of their bids for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, which were not the subject of charges announced by U.S. prosecutors last week against FIFA officials.
Ironically, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he supported Qatar hosting the 2022 tournament but said Britain would work with another country if FIFA re-opened the bidding process.
Perhaps the Clinton foundation will merely refund the Qatar "proceeds" if the Mid-east nation is stripped of its hosting rights. Or perhaps the US will simply make it up by "accidentally" blowing up Bashar al Assad's home and ending once and for all the last hurdle to launching the Qatari natgas pipeline to Europe (in the process, the US also successfully isolating Gazprom as Europe's sole outside energy provider).
For Russia, the fate of Assad and Syria is a booby-trapped bridge it will have not choice but to cross eventually. But as for the fate of the Russian 2018 World Cup, the irony is that by forcibly stripping Putin of hosting rights, it will do Russia not one favor but two as we explained on Thursday:
- first, Putin will save billions in funds for far better uses (the IRR on mass sport spectacles is terrible), and avoid the bottomless pit that is building if not bridges, then surely road, to nowhere and stadiums that will be used once only to become grazing grounds for sheep in the years to come.
- more importantly, for a country fanned by nationalistic fervor, Putin will be able to wave the patriotic flag and slam the evil USA for not only meddling in other people's affairs, but taking away what was rightfully Russia's, thereby boosting his nationalism-inspired popularity to even greater heights.
Or, to loosely paraphrase Hans Gruber, "You asked for miracles, Theo, I give you the DOJ."