World Cup furore could lead to UEFA 'divorce'

FIFA's decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar could prompt a UEFA breakaway, a prominent investigative journalist has claimed.

Awarding Qatar the showpiece was met with particular criticism over alleged corruption and staging the tournament in the country's extreme weather conditions. 

However, a report of an investigation into the process - published by Hans-Joachim Eckert, chairman of the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's independent Ethics Committee, on Thursday - cleared Qatar of any wrongdoing, seemingly ending the possibility of the bidding process being restarted.

FIFA's overall findings on former United States attorney Michael Garcia's inquiry claimed that "the various incidents which might have occurred are not suited to compromise the integrity of the FIFA World Cup 2018/2022 bidding process as a whole".

Andrew Jennings has long investigated goings-on at FIFA HQ, publishing books and producing documentaries on the subject.

Though he maintains hosting the tournament in Qatar remains totally unfeasible, Jennings predicts a forced staging in the Gulf state could have far-reaching consequences.

"If Blatter doesn't get out of Qatar soon and can't find a way out then UEFA will break away because European football isn't going to accept a two-month suspension in the middle of the season," he told Perform.

"It's like a divorce.

"Because we will not - in England, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Holland or Belgium - stand for a November-December shutdown.

"Go tell the TV networks, whoever is running Sky in 2022 there's going to be no good football on television - it's not going to happen.

"Tell all the staff at these clubs who are going to get laid off with no money for eight weeks. How will the clubs pay the wages of players who are not in the World Cup and are sat around? It's all a fantasy. 

"The Premier League won't stand for it but they'll just wait for it all to fizzle away, it's all been a waste of our time and it still is.

"Just think: Who's going to Qatar? Fans? No. Footballers? No. Sponsors? No. Networks? No Leagues? No."