Belfast Telegraph

FIFA scandal: FA set to investigate Blatter's World Cup vote claims

By Martyn Ziegler

Sepp Blatter has revealed there was an agreement for the 2018 World Cup to go to Russia before the vote took place.

The suspended Fifa President has said that the tournament was always lined up to go to Russia with the 2022 World Cup to be held in the USA - until Michel Platini decided to throw his weight behind Qatar.

Blatter's comments will spark further controversy over World Cup bidding - England, Spain/Portugal and Belgium/Holland spent tens of millions of pounds bidding against Russia.

Blatter did not expand on who exactly had "agreed" for Russia to be hosts, but claimed the crisis in Fifa had been prompted by England and the USA being "bad losers" as a result of their World Cup bid failures.

Blatter said: "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 to go to Russia because it's never been in Russia, or eastern Europe, and for 2022 to go back to America.

"And everything was good until (French President Nicolas) Sarkozy came into a meeting with the crown prince of Qatar, who is now the ruler of Qatar. And at a lunch afterwards with Mr Platini he said it would be good to go to Qatar. This changed all pattern.

"There was an election by secret ballot. Four votes from Europe went away from the USA and so the result was 14 to eight. If you put the four votes, it would have been 12 to 10. 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."

Blatter, who is facing criminal proceedings in relation to a £1.3million payment made to Platini in 2011 and over TV rights deals sold to Jack Warner, said there was no possibility that Russia would lose the World Cup.

He added: "It has been anchored in Fifa. There will be no change in the World Cup."

Asked about English criticism, Blatter replied: "Bad losers. There was only one vote for England. They were eliminated in the first round. Nobody wanted England."

Meanwhile, Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has said the governing body will look into Blatter's revelation.

The FA spent £21m on England's 2018 failed bid including £2.5m public money from local authorities, and Dyke said it would be "very nice" to get that money back.

Dyke said: "We will look into detail at what Mr Blatter says. I suspect the response (from him) will be 'I was misquoted'."

Asked if the FA would look to reclaim the bid costs, Dyke replied: "We will obviously go back and look at it. I think it would be a good idea."

Belfast Telegraph


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