Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter has suggested that there was an agreement to award both Russia and the U.S. with the World Cup tournaments before official votes were held.
His claims have added further doubt over the legitimacy of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process. The deal to bring the event to the U.S. appears to not have worked out: the tournaments were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
In an interview with the Russian news agency Tass, the 79-year-old spoke of a “discussion” in 2010 on the future World Cups.
“In 2010 we had a discussion of the World Cup and then we went to a double decision. For the World Cups it was agreed that we go to Russia because it’s never been in Russia, eastern Europe, and for 2022 we go back to America” Blatter told Tass. “And so we will have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers” says the suspended head of the body running world soccer.
Blatter suggests that it was then-French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, that changed the pre-planned course of events. According to him, if the U.S. was awarded the 2022 World Cup tournament instead of Qatar, FIFA would not have been engulfed by the crisis it is in today.
“And everything was good until the moment when Sarkozy came in a meeting with the crown prince of Qatar, who is now the ruler of Qatar [Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani]. And at a lunch afterwards with Mr Platini he said it would be good to go to Qatar. And this has changed all pattern” says Blatter. “There was an election by secret ballot. Four votes from Europe went away from the USA and so the result was fourteen to eight. If you put the four votes, it would have been twelve to ten. If the USA was given the World Cup, we would only speak about the wonderful World Cup 2018 in Russia and we would not speak about any problems at FIFA.”
In May, the U.S. indicted current and former FIFA football officials on charges of corruption following an inquiry by the FBI. Blatter told Tass that he thinks his three-month suspension from Fifa over the corruption allegations is “total nonsense.”