Saturday 22 October 2016

Sepp Blatter blames political interference for World Cup votes

Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter claims the German and French presidents tried to influence the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes
Outgoing Fifa president Sepp Blatter claims the German and French presidents tried to influence the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has claimed there were "political interventions" from the presidents of France and Germany ahead of the voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The embattled chief of football's world governing body alleges former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his German counterpart Christian Wulff sought to influence vote-makers before the two tournament hosts were announced in December 2010.

Russia were awarded the 2018 World Cup while Qatar were named as hosts for the 2022 tournament, with the voting process for both events being embroiled in controversy and criticism since.

The Swiss authorities are currently investigating the bidding process around the two tournaments.


Speaking to Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Blatter said: "Before the World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar, there were two political interventions.

"Messrs Sarkozy and Wulff tried to influence their vote-makers. That is the reason why we now have a World Cup in Qatar. Those who decided this should also take the responsibility."

Blatter claims as well that the German football association (DFB) "also received such a recommendation that Germany should vote for Qatar due to economic interests".

He added: "Just look at all the German companies - the Deutsche Bahn (German railways) Hochtief and many more all already had projects in Qatar before the World Cup was awarded there.

"I act on the leadership principle. If a majority of the executive committee wants a World Cup in Qatar then I have to accept that."

Blatter also insisted he has "nothing to fear" on a personal level as an investigation into corruption at FIFA which has seen 18 people indicted in the United States continues.

The 79-year-old said: "I am here to fight, not for myself but for FIFA. Criticism doesn't hurt me - what does hurt are the tirades of hatred. Envy has turned into hatred.

"I am afraid people want to destroy FIFA, which is my product. Everybody has fears, for example of dying, but I have nothing to fear in view of my work at FIFA. I am not afraid."

Blatter announced on June 2 he would step down from the FIFA presidency at an extraordinary congress to be held between December and March.

Since then there has been speculation that Blatter could actually stand for the post once again, but the Swiss has dismissed that prospect, saying: "It is not my intention to stand as a candidate again."

Until that emergency meeting, Blatter is to remain in Switzerland and do all he can to clean up FIFA's image.

That is partly because he feels there is a lot of work to be done, but also because he fears he may be arrested the moment he leaves the country.

"Not because the Americans have anything concrete against me, but because it would cause a public stir," Blatter said.

"Until everything has been cleared up, I am not going to take the risk of travelling."

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