Suspended FIFA president claims a deal was in place to award Russia 2018 World Cup, and the USA 2022 edition
MOSCOW: Sepp Blatter on Wednesday blamed Michel Platini and ‘bad losers’ England and the United States for the corruption scandal engulfing FIFA.
And he claimed a deal was in place to award Russia the 2018 World Cup, and the USA the 2022 edition before the secret vote to designate the hosts took place.
But according to Blatter, Platini and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy skewered the 2022 plan by cosying up to eventual hosts Qatar.
Seven candidates in running for FIFA presidency
The 79-year-old Swiss told Russian news agency TASS: “In 2010, we (FIFA’s 22-strong executive committee) had taken a double decision, we were agreed to go to Russia (in 2018), then in 2022 we’d return to the United States.
“That way, we’d have had the World Cups in the two biggest powers.”
That all changed, he told TASS, “after talks between Sarkozy and Qatar’s prince (Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani) who is now running the emirate,” – a meeting followed by lunch between the two men and Platini.
As a result of that Franco-Qatari summit, at FIFA’s secret ballot in December 2010, “four European votes deserted the United States and the result was 14-8 (to Qatar).
“If those four votes had not changed it would’ve been 12-10 (for the USA).
“And if the United States had received the World Cup all we’d be talking about now would be the marvellous 2018 World Cup in Russia and not about any problem at FIFA.”
The eight official FIFA presidential candidates
He dismissed calls to strip Russia of the 2018 World Cup as the bleatings of “bad losers”.
“England invented the magnificent game. They created fair-play. But (at the vote) there was only one vote for England, no one wanted England.”
In the hard-hitting interview, Blatter identified Platini as the original cause of the crisis at the top of football.
“Platini wanted to be FIFA president, but he didn’t have the courage to put himself forward (in the May 29 election in which Blatter saw off Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein for his fifth term of office).
“And now look where we are! And the victim of all this at the end of the day is Platini himself!
“UEFA didn’t want me as president, but they didn’t get their way, I was reelected.” He accused European football’s governing body of “being victim for years to an anti-FIFA virus”.
Platini, confirmed by FIFA Wednesday as one of seven candidates for the February 26 election, was the one-time heir apparent to succeed Blatter.
But the Frenchman’s seemingly smooth ascension to the FIFA throne has been, if not fatally, then at least severely damaged by the crisis.
Both Blatter and Platini are serving suspensions from all football-related matters over a $2million (1.8 million euro) payment the UEFA boss received from Blatter on behalf of FIFA in 2011 for consultancy work carried out years before.
The ban means Platini, one-time favourite to succeed Blatter, can take no part in the election campaign until the suspension is lifted and he is cleared of any potential wrongdoing.
The other candidates are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Musa Bility, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale.