Report: FBI scrutinizing award of 2018, 2022 World Cups. Should there be a re-vote?


More news has arrived in the FIFA corruption scandal on Wednesday, as Reuters news agency is reporting that the FBI are indeed investigating the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch wouldn’t comment on the FBI’s ongoing investigation into FIFA on a trip to Latvia on Wednesday — or whether or not Blatter was now involved in it — but she did comment on the Swiss authorities looking into alleged corruption during the allocation of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

“The Swiss authorities do have an investigation underway and their investigation covers matters involving the World Cup awarding for 2018 and 2022, and beyond that I am not able to comment,” Lynch said from the Latvian capital of Riga.

However this new piece of news from Reuters will change things drastically — the FBI had yet to confirm if it was looking into the bidding process — in what has been a traumatic few days for world soccer’s governing body.

With Sepp Blatter announcing he will resign in sensational fashion in Zurich on Tuesday, world soccer’s governing is close to ruins. A new leader will be elected in the next 6-9 months after an extraordinary congress was called by Blatter to decide his successor, just five days after being re-elected for a fifth-straight four year term. Blatter’s 17-year reign as FIFA’s leader will come to an end between December this year and March 2016 but so many questions are cropping up over why he is to resign later this year.

[ RELATED:  Who is next? ]  

There is much to sort out between now and then.

In his hastily-arranged resignation speech the 79-year-old leader of world soccer’s governing body said that despite his re-election last Friday “I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football.”

With separate reports suggesting that Blatter is under investigation by the FBI, plus his secretary general Jerome Valcke accused of being involved in the distribution of an allegedly corrupt $10 million payment in 2008, the corruption allegations from the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice seems to be getting a lot closer to Blatter by the day.

[ RELATED: FBI investigating Blatter?

Given all of that and the reports regarding the FBI “scrutinizing” the Russia and Qatar World Cup bids, it begs this important question. Are the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in serious jeopardy of taking place?

The chairman of the English Football Association, Greg Dyke, believes there should be a new investigation into how those hosts were picked after FIFA’s own ethics committee ruled out any wrongdoing by either Russia or Qatar in December 2014. Their report was conducted by American lawyer Michael Garcia and although his full report will not be published, the leader of FIFA’s ethics committee released a summary of the report which Garcia rejected as it “contains numerous materially incomplete and erroneous representations of the facts and conclusions.”

Plus, if the new leader of FIFA wishes to open an investigation into the World Cup allocation, we have a whole new ball game.

[ RELATED: Blatter re-elected ] 

Dyke, who has led the anti-Qatar drive from the English FA who lost out to Russia for the 2018 World Cup bid, said this after hearing about Blatter’s resignation.

“We can go back to looking at those two World Cups,” Dyke said. “If I were Qatar right now I wouldn’t be feeling very comfortable… There has been less evidence about corruption involving Russia. Qatar was never understandable – to have a World Cup in the middle of summer in Qatar when even FIFA’s health and safety people advised not to do it. I think if the evidence comes out which shows the bidding processes were above board that’s fine. If it shows they were corrupt then obviously the bids should be re-done, it’s as simple as that.”

Qatar’s football association hit back at Dyke’s comments and had the following to say.

“Mr Dyke’s instinct to immediately focus on stripping Qatar of the World Cup speaks volumes on his views concerning what will be the first FIFA World Cup to take place in the Middle East,” said the Qatari FA in a statement. “Having already co-operated fully with Mr. Garcia’s investigation — and been subsequently cleared of any wrong-doing — we welcome the Office of the Swiss Attorney General conducting its own work into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. We would urge Mr Dyke to let the legal process take its course and concentrate on delivering his promise to build an England team capable of winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

Anybody get the sense that Qatar’s getting a bit touchy? When news of Blatter’s resignation broke on Tuesday Qatar’s stock-market plummeted by $45 billion, almost three percent of its total value, before rallying. As for Russia 2018, that seems more likely to go ahead as qualifying for the tournament has already began and we are three years from kick off compared to less than seven in Qatar’s case.

Frank Lowy, head of Football Federation Australia, has called for a new investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups after his nation gained just one vote for the 2022 World Cup and lost out to Qatar. Australia have since been alleged to have paid a donation to CONCACAF but Lowy insists that was for legitimate reasons.

“We ran a clean bid,” Lowy said. “I know that others did not, and I have shared what I know with the authorities, including Michael Garcia who undertook a two-year investigation into the 2022 World Cup bid.”

With growing pressure from various associations and regional governing bodies around the globe to look into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids once again, there are a busy times ahead at FIFA to sort out this mess.

If the Swiss investigation or reported FBI scrutiny finds something incriminating in one or both of the bids from Russia and Qatar, a re-vote needs to happen. Fast. Who knows how long these separate investigations will take and if anything comes of it in terms of the allocation process, but both Russia and Qatar will not be welcoming more scrutiny surrounding their World Cup bids.

Conspiracy theorists are now claiming that the reason the U.S. Department of Justice brought down the hammer on FIFA was that the USA would be one of the countries at the top of the list to host a hastily re-arranged World Cup if either Qatar or Russia lost their rights. Germany and England would also be at the top of that list but for now, the World Cups in Russia and Qatar are going ahead as planned.

But in the crazy world of FIFA, and as the last few days have proven, stranger things have happened…

USMNT, Schalke MF McKennie injures leg in loss to Bayern

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GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie was injured in the Bundesliga game against Bayern Munich and had to be helped leaving the pitch on Saturday.

The 20-year-old American received an unintentional kick in the leg from James Rodriguez as he won possession from the Colombian star. While the free kick was awarded, McKennie was unable to continue and he was replaced by Nabil Bentaleb in the 54th minute.

Bayern was leading 1-0 at the time.

McKennie, who has six appearances for the United States, missed Schalke’s defeat to Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend after returning from international duty with a bruised knee from the Americans’ 1-0 win over Mexico in a friendly.

McKennie has made 26 league appearances for Schalke.

The 2 Robbies: Mourinho criticizes his players’ attitude

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle get stuck into an eventful Saturday in the Premier League. They ask who is responsible for the questionable attitude of Jose Mourinho’s men (00:30), comment on Mauricio Pochettino and his methods at Spurs (14:00), recap comfortable wins for Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola (19:00), and wrap up by reviewing the four new managerial appointees and who is top of the class (28:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

NWSL: NC Courage complete regular-season, playoff double

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Jess McDonald scored two goals and the North Carolina Courage won the National Women’s Soccer League championship with a 3-0 victory over the Portland Thorns on Saturday.

The victory was a bit of revenge for the Courage, who lost 1-0 to the Thorns in last year’s title match.

The Courage (17-1-6) won the league’s Supporters’ Shield for best record and never dropped a game on the road. The team also set NWSL records this season for the most wins, points and goals.

The match was played before a sellout crowd of 21,144 at Portland’s Providence Park. That was a record for the final of a women’s pro league championship in the United States.

Brazilian Debinha scored on a header in the 13th minute, and McDonald followed with her own in the 40th. Shortly thereafter, Portland goalkeeper Adrianna Franch appeared to teak her ankle, but she returned for the second half.

Portland came out energized in the second half, but Courage goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland denied a Tobin Heath blast in the 55th minute.

McDonald struck again with a header in the 64th minute that Franch got a hand on but couldn’t stop.

McDonald, a 30-year-old vet who has played for five teams in six years, led the league with eight assists in the regular season. She has three goals in the postseason.

“It feels absolutely amazing. This is what we worked so hard for,” McDonald said. “Every single minute, every single day that we put work into – it counted today,” McDonald said.

FOLLOW LIVE: ATL chasing Shield; NYCFC desperate to end 5-game skid

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Atlanta United could take another massive step toward the 2018 Supporters’ Shield with a home win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, despite New York Red Bulls’ victory over Toronto FC in the day’s earlier game.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: 6 games in MLS, beginning at 7 p.m. ET ]

The Five Stripes entered the day with a four-point lead on the Red Bulls (it has since been reduced to one) with five games left to play (four for RBNY). RSL, on the other hand, are riding a four-game unbeaten run and have lost just twice in the last 12 times out. That run has seen them rise from near the bottom of the Western Conference to fifth place, five points clear of the playoff cut line.

In the Eastern Conference, the story of the last month has been New York City FC’s slide: five games without a win, and just one win in their last eight games. Domenec Torrent enjoyed a strong start after taking over for Patrick Vieira, but everything has turned sour in the last six weeks. From Shield contenders, to just another member of the chasing pack. Their opponents, Montreal Impact, are currently clutching the East’s sixth and final playoff place, thought D.C. United have cut the gap to just four points with a game in hand.

Today’s MLS results

Los Angeles FC 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes
New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC — underway

Tonight’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United vs. Real Salt Lake — 7 p.m. ET
Montreal Impact vs. New York City FC — 7:30 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC vs. Colorado Rapids — 7:30 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando City SC vs. Houston Dynamo — 7:30 p.m. ET
Minnesota United vs. Portland Timbers — 8 p.m. ET

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City — 1 p.m. ET
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders — 7 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Dallas — 7 p.m. ET