Outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter blamed England, the United States and Michel Platini for the corruption scandal engulfing the organisation on Wednesday as seven candidates, including Platini, were confirmed in the running to succeed him.
Blatter claimed in an interview with Russian news agency TASS that it had been agreed to award Russia the 2018 World Cup, and the USA the 2022 edition, before the secret vote to designate the hosts took place.
But the 79-year-old Swiss said UEFA president Platini and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy skewered the 2022 plan by cosying up to eventual hosts Qatar.
“In 2010, we (FIFA’s 22-strong executive committee) had taken a double decision, we were agreed to go to Russia (in 2018), then in 2022 we’d return to the United States,” Blatter told TASS.
That all changed, he added, “after talks between Sarkozy and Qatar’s prince (Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani) who is now running the emirate,” – a meeting followed by lunch between the two men and Platini.
As a result of that Franco-Qatari summit, at FIFA’s secret ballot in December 2010, “four European votes deserted the United States and the result was 14-8 (to Qatar).
“And if the United States had received the World Cup all we’d be talking about now would be the marvellous 2018 World Cup in Russia and not about any problem at FIFA.”
He dismissed calls to strip Russia of the 2018 World Cup as the bleatings of “bad losers”.
But English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said his organisation would investigate the claims and indicated he would attempt to get back the money spent on England’s failed bid — a total of around £21 million ($32.2 million, 29.1 million euros).
“We will look into detail at what Mr Blatter says,” Dyke told the British parliament’s culture, media and sport committee in London.
“There’s nothing Mr Blatter says that surprises me much. If he is saying, ‘We wanted Russia’ and it looks like he wanted that fixed before the vote, it’s suggesting that it was all fixed anyway.”
– Nakhid rejected –
Earlier, FIFA’s Electoral Committee confirmed it had retained seven candidates to run in its election for a new president on February 26.
The candidates are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Musa Bility, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Michel Platini, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale.
Former Trinidad and Tobago footballer David Nakhid submitted his candidacy last week, but it was rejected on the grounds that one of the five national football associations he gave as endorsing him had already backed another candidate, a FIFA source told AFP.
Candidates need the backing of at least five of FIFA’s 209 association members before they can be considered.
Nakhid told AFP that he would appeal against the decision which he said was part of a “dirty tricks campaign”.
FIFA said in a press release that, with the exception of Platini, the candidature dossiers would be processed by its electoral committee.
Platini is currently suspended from all football-related activities for 90 days while he is investigated over a $2 million clandestine payment he received from Blatter on behalf of FIFA in 2011 for consultancy work carried out years before.
“Should such a ban be lifted or expire before the FIFA presidential election, the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee would decide, depending on the respective exact point in time, on how to proceed with the candidature concerned,” a FIFA statement read.
Platini been seen as a strong favourite to take over when Blatter announced in June he was standing down.
Blatter, meanwhile, identified Platini as the original cause of the crisis at the top of football.
“Platini wanted to be FIFA president, but he didn’t have the courage to put himself forward (in the May 29 election in which Blatter saw off Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein for his fifth term in office),” he told TASS.
“And now look where we are. And the victim of all this at the end of the day is Platini himself.”
The scandal erupted when seven FIFA officials were among those arrested by Swiss police in Zurich on May 27 as part of a bribery investigation by US authorities.
On Wednesday, one of those arrested, former Brazilian Football Confederation president Jose Maria Marin, 83, agreed to be extradited to the United States.
Also on Wednesday, the German federal government confirmed it was looking into corruption allegations in relation to the country’s hosting of the 2006 World Cup and an alleged unexplained payment of 6.7 million euros ($7.43m) made to FIFA by the German Football Association (DFB).