Blatter claims backroom deal on Russia World Cup

Paris, October 29

Sepp Blatter has claimed there was a deal to give Russia the 2018 World Cup before voting took place, and blamed “bad losers” England and the US for the corruption scandal engulfing the organisation.

“In 2010, we had taken a double decision, we were agreed to go to Russia (in 2018), then in 2022 we’d return to the United States,” the outgoing FIFA president told Russian news agency.

If the United States had won the right to host the 2022 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,” he said Wednesday.

Blatter’s comments prompted the head of the English Football Association Greg Dyke to say he would look into recouping around $32.2 million spent on England’s failed 2018 bid. Dyke said investigating the claims was a “good idea” as it would be “very nice to get taxpayers’ money back.”

In further revelations, Blatter hit out at UEFA president Michel Platini and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, saying they skewered the 2022 plan by cosying up to eventual hosts Qatar.

Everything changed, he added, “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”, he said.

Blatter accused Platini of being 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,” he said, referring to the May 29 election in which Blatter saw off Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein for his fifth term in office. “And now look where we are.

And the victim of all this at the end of the day is Platini himself,” he said. Platini is currently suspended from all football-related activities for 90 days while he is investigated over a clandestine $2 million payment he received from Blatter on behalf of FIFA in 2011 for consultancy work carried out years before.