The vote for the hosting of the 2022 World Cup must be re-run if corruption allegations surrounding Qatar's winning campaign are proved to be accurate, Lord Goldsmith, a member of Fifa's Independent Governance Committee, said yesterday.
Britain's Sunday Times newspaper said it had evidence that about US$5 million was paid to officials in return for votes for Qatar's bid. The claims have been strongly denied by organisers.
Goldsmith, Britain's former attorney general, said if soccer's world governing body was to weather scandals surrounding World Cup bids, it had "to produce a convincing and transparent answer to these allegations".
He said: "I believe that if these allegations are shown to be true, then the hosting decision for Qatar has to be re-run.
"If it is proved … that the decision to give Qatar the World Cup was procured by … bribery and improper influence, then that decision ought not to stand."
The UK government, humiliated over England's bid for the 2018 tournament - which received just a single external vote - previously said the corruption claims were a matter for Fifa.
Watch: FIFA secretary general refuses to comment on corruption allegations
But Sports Minister Helen Grant signalled a shift, saying: "These appear to be very serious allegations. It is essential that major sporting events are awarded in an open, fair and transparent manner."
Shadow sports minister Clive Efford called for a re-run of the vote, in which Qatar overcame rival bids from the US, Australia, Japan and South Korea.
"This issue calls the governance of football into question. No one will have any confidence in a Fifa investigation run by [Fifa president] Sepp Blatter," he said. "Fifa must take urgent action and reopen the bidding for the 2022 World Cup if it wants to restore its credibility."
The man at the centre of the allegations, Qatari former Fifa executive committee member and Asian Football Confederation chief Mohamed bin Hammam, was not an official member of the bid team and has yet to comment on the allegations.
Fifa had already launched an investigation into corruption allegations surrounding the bid headed by American lawyer Michael Garcia.
He said yesterday he would complete his probe next week and report back about six weeks later - which would be July 21, a week after this year's tournament ends with a final in Rio de Janeiro.
Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy - the nation's World Cup organising committee - said: "We are cooperating fully with Mr Garcia's ongoing investigation and remain totally confident that any objective inquiry will conclude we won the bid fairly."
Reuters, The Guardian