Sepp Blatter infers President Sarzoky influenced Qatar World Cup vote

Sepp Blatter says awarding the World Cup to Qatar was 'a mistake'
Sepp Blatter says awarding the World Cup to Qatar was 'a mistake' / FABRICE COFFRINI/GettyImages

Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, has opened up on the role of President Sarkozy and Michel Platini in awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Qatar was controversially awarded the hosting rights to the World Cup back in 2010, seeing off rival bids from the United States - who were expected to win - South Korea, Japan and Australia.

There were widespread allegations of vote-buying and corruption, but an independent investigation commissioned by FIFA found no evidence of wrongdoing.

Nevertheless, Blatter was charged with fraud after making a £1.7m payment to Platini, which the pair disclosed as being a 'gentlemen's agreement'. Both were cleared in a Swiss court, though Blatter remains banned from all football activities.

Now, in his first interview since being acquitted, Blatter has opened up on the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar, the roles of ex-UEFA chief Platini and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the immediate buying of fighter jets by Qatar from France and why he considers the decision made in 2010 to be "a mistake".

"A week before the 2010 FIFA Congress, Michel Platini called me to say that our plan would not work. He was invited to the palace of President Sarkozy who had just had lunch with the Crown Prince of Qatar," Blatter told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.

"Sarkozy told Platini: 'Look what you and your UEFA colleagues can do for Qatar when the World Cup is awarded'.

"'Sepp, what would you do if your president asked you for something?' I then told him that the question didn't occur to me because we don't have a president in Switzerland. It turned out exactly like this: thanks to Platini's four votes, the World Cup went to Qatar rather than to the United States. That's the truth.

"Of course it was also about money. Six months later, Qatar bought fighter jets from the French for 14.6 billion dollars."

"The choice of Qatar was a mistake," Blatter added. "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.

"It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that."