Political pressure influenced 2018, 2022 World Cup votes: Blatter

Munich, (IANS) World football’s governing body FIFA’s president Sepp Blatter on Sunday said former French and German presidents tried to influence the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes for hosting rights.

FIFA awarded the 2018 Cup hosting rights to Russia and of the 2022 edition to Qatar. The handing of the competition to the countries sparked immense outrage and criticism. The decision to award Qatar the hosting rights was particularly criticised due to the summer heat in the country and its poor human rights record.

Blatter alleged that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his ex-German counterpart Christian Wulff tried to persuade members to vote for the two countries.

“Before awarding the World Cup to Russia and Qatar there were two political interventions. Sarkozy and Wulff tried to influence their voting representatives. That is why we now have a World Cup in Qatar,” Blatter was quoted as saying by German paper Welt am Sonntag.

“Those who have voted for Qatar should also take responsibility.”

The bidding process of the 2022 and the 2018 competition are being investigated by the United States and Switzerland for bribing and financial wrongdoing.

Blatter said people who influenced the voting should now take responsibility for their actions adding that Wulff wanted to see Qatar win because Germany had economic interests in Qatar.

“The German Railways, the construction company Hochtief and many more already had projects in Qatar, before the World Cup was awarded,” he said.

Blatter announced on 2 June his intention of stepping down — just days after his re-election for a fifth four-year term – from the presidency at its Congress atb the end of the year after being subject to intense pressure for alleged corruption at FIFA.

The United States has so far indicted 14 people including nine FIFA officials.

The Swiss has received a great deal of criticism and has faced claims of corruption, but he insists that personal attacks do not affect him, stressing that his goal is to defend FIFA and fix the organisation.

“Criticism does not hurt me. What hurts is hate speech. Hatred has come from envy. I am here to fight. Not for myself, but for FIFA,” the 79-year-old said.

Since his announcement, though, there has been a rising suspicion that he will change his mind and remain in charge or choose to stand for election again, but he reiterated that he is no intention of doing so.

“Running again in the next election is not in my mind,” he said.

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