Home >Industry >Media >Was 2018 World Cup awarded before the vote? Blatter claims so

Sepp Blatter is singing or so it would seem. In a stunning revelation that could cast further doubts over the awarding of the 2018 and the 2022 World Cups, Blatter claimed that a decision to award the tournament to Russia, was made even before voting was due to take place.

In an interview to Russian state news agency TASS, Blatter said on Tuesday, “In 2010, we had a decision 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. And so we have the World Cup in two biggest political powers."

The other contenders for the 2018 World Cup included England, Holland-Belgium and Spain-Portugal. Russia was awarded the right to stage the tournament following a vote in December 2010.

Similarly, the 2022 World Cup, which was eventually awarded to Qatar, has been at the heart of the controversy surrounding Fifa’s corruption. The decision, at the time raised many eyebrows (and continues to do so), given Qatar’s extreme climatic conditions, lack of (or limited) football history and Qatar’s deplorable human rights record. In May 2014, Blatter admitted to a Swiss TV station that the Fifa executive committee’s (ExCo) decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a “mistake". He said at the time, “Yes. Well, a mistake. A mistake. You know one makes many mistakes in life. The technical report on Qatar clearly indicated that it was too hot in summer."

In Wednesday’s interview, Blatter spilled the beans on the behind-the-scenes action, which he suggested took the World Cup away from the US, the country that was agreed upon, even before the vote. He said, “Everything was good until the moment when (Nicholas) 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, Mr. (Michel) Platini said it would be good to go to Qatar. And this has changed all pattern. 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 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."

Both Blatter and Platini are part of an ongoing investigation by Fifa’s ethics committee. The committee is looking into Blatter allegedly making, what it called, “disloyal payment" in 2011 to Platini of 2 million Swiss francs, for his work as Blatter’s consultant between 1999 and 2002. Blatter is also under investigation for “criminal mismanagement or misappropriation" of a TV rights deal he signed with Jack Warner in 2005. Blatter and Platini have been subsequently suspended from football-related activities for 90 days by the Ethics Committee. They have since denied any wrongdoing.

Blatter also launched a stinging attack on Platini, who many believed (and still do) would be his natural, eventual successor at Fifa. The duo, once considered inseparable in the world of football politics, have now fallen out, with Platini deciding to endorse Blatter’s rival Prince Ali in the 2015 Fifa Congress earlier this year. Blatter indirectly blamed Platini for the organization’s current woes. He said, “Yes, he (Platini) started it, but then it became politics. And when it is politics, it is not any longer Platini against me. It is then those, who have lost the World Cup, England against Russia. They lost the World Cup. And the USA lost the World Cup to Qatar. But you cannot destroy Fifa. Fifa is not the Swiss Bank. Fifa is not a commercial company. So, what they have done together with the Swiss, they have created this attack towards Fifa and the president of Fifa. And I am sure that at the beginning when UEFA said they don’t want me, they didn’t know that finally it came out with such a political importance."

Not to be outdone, Platini, with an interview of his own, made a strong case for his election as Blatter’s successor. Platini’s candidature was confirmed by Fifa on Wednesday, with its electoral committee saying that it may allow him to stand, should his ban end before the election, scheduled to take place on 26 February 2016. Platini, in an interview to The Telegraph said, “I am, in all humility, the most able man to run football." He admitted to friction between UEFA and Fifa, which ultimately resulted in a breakdown in his relations with Blatter. “With Sepp Blatter, our relationship became still more strained when in 2015, going against the promise he made in 2011, he wanted to put himself forward for re-election," Platini said.

The former France international described his current situation, serving a suspension and fighting the Fifa presidential elections, as thus: “Today, I have the sense of being a knight from the Middle Ages, in front of a castle. I am trying to get in to bring football back, but instead I’m having boiling oil poured on my head."

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