Ex-Fifa president Blatter terms award of World Cup to Qatar a ‘mistake’ alleges political meddling

Ex-Fifa president Blatter terms award of World Cup to Qatar a ‘mistake’ alleges political meddling


Sepp Blatter has blamed friend-turned foe Michel Platini for the “mistake” of awarding Qatar this month’s World Cup.

The since-disgraced Blatter, 86, was Fifa president at the time of the 2010 twin vote for the 2018 and 2022 hosts. Blatter has never hidden his claims that he initially voted for Australia before switching to the USA for the second round of the 2022 vote, as part of his ambition of awarding consecutive hosting rights to the three grand powers of Russia, America and China.

The Qatar decision has been marred by controversy, including allegations of corruption and human rights violations, since it was first announced. Blatter, who led Fifa for 17 years, has also been embroiled in accusations of corruption during his tenure. He was cleared of fraud by a Swiss court in June. The prosecutors have appealed the ruling.

And now in an interview in his homeland, Swiss fixer Blatter, ousted after the FBI raids on Fifa in 2015, pinned the blame directly on ex-Uefa boss and one-time protege Platini. He told Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger “Qatar is a mistake” and added, “The choice was bad.”

Blatter said, “The choice of Qatar was a mistake. At the time, we actually agreed in the Executive Committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022. It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.”

The former Fifa boss explained further, “But a week before the 2010 Fifa Congress, Michel Platini called me and said our plan would no longer work. He told me he had been invited to the Elysée Palace, where then French President Sarkozy had just had lunch with the Crown Prince of Qatar.

“Sarkozy said to Platini: ‘See what you and your colleagues from Uefa can do for Qatar when the World Cup is awarded.’ I then asked him, ‘And now?’ and he replied: ‘Sepp, what would you do if your president asked you for something?’ So, I couldn’t count on Platini anymore. It came out exactly like this: Thanks to Platini’s four votes and his people, the World Cup went to Qatar instead of the USA. That’s the truth.”

Blatter, who barely concealed his anger at the decision of the then-22 man committee, added: “Qatar is too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that. The choice was bad.”

Blatter also took a dig at his Fifa successor, Gianni Infantino, who upped sticks from the world organisation’s base to move with his family to Doha.

He said: “What I’m wondering: why is the new Fifa president living in Qatar? He can’t be the head of the local World Cup organisation. That’s not his job. The Fifa President should have the ultimate supervision. For example, there is a proposal to set up a fund for the deceased workers and the bereaved. Qatar says no. What should Fifa say if their president is in the same boat as Qatar?”

He said Fifa in 2022 amended the criteria it used to select host countries in light of concerns over the working conditions at tournament-related construction sites in Qatar.

“Since then, social considerations and human rights are taken into account,” he said. He said he will be watching the tournament, which kicks off in less than two weeks, from his home in Zurich.

About author

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *