In a revealing interview, suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter said the World Cup host selections for 2018 and 2022 had been decided before the official voting process took place in December 2010. In an interview with Russian state news agency Tass published Wednesday, Blatter said it was decided that Russia should host the 2018 tournament, while the U.S. would host in 2022.
“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,” Blatter said. “And so we will have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers.”
The 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar instead of the U.S. Blatter said then French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with Qatar’s crown prince over lunch and then told the Union of European Football Associations President Michel Platini that it would be a good idea for the Middle Eastern nation to host the tournament. Blatter used his interview to blame Platini for the current problems plaguing the soccer world.
FIFA’s ethics committee suspended both Blatter and Platini for three months over a payment FIFA made to Platini for over $1 million. Blatter said that had the U.S. been awarded the World Cup, none of the current problems would be taking place. When the Tass interviewer asked Blatter if it was possible that Russia would lose its hosting responsibility, he said it wasn’t a possibility.
“No, you will never lose the World Cup,” Blatter said. “It has been anchored in FIFA. There will be no change in the World Cup.”
Football Association chairman Greg Dyke said Blatter’s interview would be looked at in detail.
“I suspect the response (from him) will be ‘I was misquoted,’ but if he says that then I think there is something to investigate,” Dyke said, according to the Guardian. “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.”
Prior to the revelations, calls had been issued to revoke the Russia’s hosting duties due to Russia’s role in the conflict in Ukraine where over 8,000 have died and Russia’s anti-gay laws.
“You cannot destroy FIFA,” Blatter said during the interview. “FIFA is not the Swiss bank. FIFA is not a commercial company.”
The next FIFA president will be selected in February. Platini has put himself forward as one of the candidates.