LONDON (Reuters) - FIFA have more options available than just organising a re-vote to decide new 2022 World Cup hosts if allegations are proved that Qatar's winning bid to stage the finals was corrupt, said FIFA presidential candidate Jerome Champagne.
The Frenchman, the only person to formally declare his candidacy to stand in next year's elections - almost certainly against incumbent Sepp Blatter - told Reuters that it was far from a foregone conclusion that, if and when FIFA had to decide on a change, there would be a simple re-vote.
"It is too simplistic just to say there should be a re-vote. Would Qatar be allowed to re-submit a bid if these allegations are proved? Can you imagine that happening? I don't know. Is an athlete allowed to run again if he is guilty of doping?
"It is just conjecture at this stage, but just to say there should be a re-vote is far too simplistic."
Qatar has strongly denied reports in Britain's Sunday Times newspaper that bribes were paid to officials to bring the sporting world's biggest global event to the tiny Gulf emirate.
The newspaper reported that it had evidence that around $5 million was paid to officials in return for votes for Qatar's successful bid.
The former official at the centre of the allegations, Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam who was the head of football in Asia at the time of the decision to award the cup to his native country, has yet to comment publicly on the allegations which threaten to overshadow the run-up to the four-yearly World Cup, which begins in 10 days in Brazil.
FIFA investigator Michael Garcia has been probing claims of wrong-doing surrounding the awards of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups for two years and his findings will be submitted around two weeks after the end of the World Cup which kicks off in Sao Paulo next week.
There has been widespread speculation that if the latest allegations against Qatar are proven soccer's governing body FIFA will order a re-vote.
But Champagne, who worked at FIFA for 11 years before leaving in 2010 and could possibly return as president next year, said it was far too early to make such an assumption.
"If the allegations are proved, does FIFA disqualify Qatar as you would in sport and award the prize to the 'silver-medallist' - in this case the United States?
"Or does FIFA just throw it all open to everyone who submitted bids for both the 2018 and 2022 finals and any new candidate who wants to bid?
"I am in favour of taking the World Cup to places it has never been before, but the process has to be absolutely open and honest. Everything needs to be on the table. We need to know about what has happened here. We cannot go into the World Cup in 2022 under these conditions."
At last year's Congress in Mauritius FIFA decided that the awarding of future World Cups would no longer be decided by the executive committee but by all of its member associations, currently standing at 209 countries. In future they will vote openly on a short-list submitted by the executive.
Qatar beat the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan for the right to stage the 2022 finals, beating the United States 14-11 in the final round of voting after the others were eliminated.
Russia won the right to stage the 2018 finals after beating joint bids from Spain/Portugal and Netherlands/Belgium as well as a bid from England.
Bin Hammam, the former president of the Asian Football Confederation and a member of FIFA's decision-making executive committee for 15 years, was banned for life from football in 2012 following his role in another bribery scandal surrounding his aborted bid for the FIFA presidency in 2011.
editing by Justin Palmer