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October 31, 2015

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Blatter casts further doubt on WCup vote integrity

SEPP Blatter has cast further doubt on the integrity of World Cup votes, blaming Michel Platini for backing out of a secret FIFA pact to award the 2022 tournament to the United States and suggesting Qatar benefited from collusion.

Blatter’s allegations in an interview with the Financial Times come almost a year after a FIFA ethics investigation exonerated 2018 host Russia and 2022 winner Qatar of corruption in winning the contentious dual votes in 2010.

Blatter is provisionally suspended from the FIFA presidency while under investigation for financial wrongdoing. Blatter risks a separate ethics probe into his comments about the World Cup bidding process if he did not provide the same admissions to FIFA’s investigatory team last year.

Platini, the UEFA leader, is also serving a provisional 90-day ban over a 2011 payment from FIFA authorized by Blatter which looks set to end his chances of taking over the presidency.

While Blatter is reinforcing perceptions that the World Cup votes he presided over were tainted, the interview also threatens to further undermine the credibility of his former ally Platini.

Blatter suggests Platini was in on a “gentleman’s agreement” to back the US over Qatar in the 2022 vote, which also featured Australia, South Korea and Japan, and to give Russia its first World Cup in 2018 over bids from England, Spain-Portugal, and Belgium-Netherlands.

“It has been agreed — let’s go to the two superpowers in the vote for the World Cup: let’s go to Russia and let’s go to the United States,” Blatter told the FT.

Blatter said it was “diplomatically arranged” to go to “big markets” to assist sponsors and media partners. But one week before the December 2010 vote, Blatter said Platini told him: “I am no longer in your picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider the situation of France.”

Blatter’s recollection is at odds with Platini’s assertion that a meeting in Paris with then-president Nicolas Sarkozy and Qatar’s crown prince, now Emir, Tamin bin Hamad al-Thani did not influence his vote for Qatar less than two weeks later.

Blatter, though, insists that the voting pact was “changed by the governmental interference of Mr Sarkozy ... and then (Platini) has brought some other voters with him”.

Blatter believes that criminal investigations into FIFA would not have been launched by the American and Swiss authorities had the vote turned out differently five years ago.


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