Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter says a “personal attack” from Michel Platini and UEFA-led changes in the 2022 World Cup voting process is at the root of the corruption scandal engulfing world football’s governing body.
The United States Department of Justice indicted 14 people, including nine past and present FIFA officials, on charges of racketeering conspiracy and corruption related to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Blatter has now revealed that an agreement had been in place for the 2022 World Cup to be hosted by the United States, only for Platini to head a European-led swing in favour for Qatar, after an alleged meeting with Qatari officials.
The Swiss told Russian news agency TASS: “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 will have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers.
“And everything was good until the moment when 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 with Mr. Platini he 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 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 and Platini are currently subject to 90-day bans by FIFA in relation to an alleged “disloyal payment” made by the organisation to the Frenchman in 2011 for work that began over a decade earlier.
Both have denied wrongdoing and appealed the sanctions, with Blatter explaining that the delay was down to FIFA being unable to afford Platini’s demands to be paid “one million” Swiss francs a year.
UEFA president Platini has submitted his candidacy to replace Blatter and has been included on a seven-man shortlist by FIFA, despite his suspension from all football-related activities, which can be extended until the week before FIFA’s extraordinary congress where a new chief will be named.
Blatter also spoke of Platini holding a vendetta against him, which he believes stems from jealousy.
“At the beginning it was only a personal attack. It was Platini against me,” he added. “He started it, but then it became politics. And when it is in politics, it is not any longer Platini against me.
“You will have to ask [Platini why he dislikes me] and we will know. Because he wanted to be FIFA president. But he had not the courage to go as the president.
“And now we are in such a situation in football. But FIFA is working well. Since I became president of FIFA, we have made FIFA a big commercial company. And this naturally provokes envy and jealousy.
“I think this crisis, and this is also the idea of my lawyers, has nothing to do with any criminal activity. Has nothing to do. So it was by perception. And the perception is given by whom? If you open the newspapers, if you open the television, every day it said – Blatter must go.
“The victim of all that finally is Platini.”