FIFA president Sepp Blatter has claimed that European politicians put pressure on FIFA members to vote for Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
UEFA president Michel Platini, who is eyeing a run at FIFA’s top job, is the only FIFA member to have admitted that he voted for Qatar. Platini has always maintained that he was not influenced by then French President Nicolas Sarkozy to vote in favour of Qatar 2022 in order to aid trade deals with the Gulf state. Blatter told German magazine Die Zeit on Wednesday: “Yes, definitely there were direct political influences. European leaders recommended to their voting members to vote for Qatar, because they have great economic interests with this country.”
Sarkozy had invited Platini to a dinner with Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, before the 2010 vote, but the UEFA president said in a statement in January: “To believe that my choice to vote for Qatar 2022 was in exchange for agreements between the French state and Qatar is pure speculation and are only the views of those who write these lies. I have therefore made my choice independently, following a simple logic that I have always advocated: openness to countries that have never hosted major sporting events. I reserve the right to sue anyone who questions my integrity in this vote.”
Meanwhile, FIFA has rejected Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) calls for financial compensation for the tournament’s bidding nations should Qatar’s World Cup be switched to a winter calendar slot. “As part of the bidding documents all bidders, including the FA of Australia, accepted that the format and dates of the staging of the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup, though initially expected to be in June/July, remains subject to the final decision of the FIFA Organising Committee,” said a FIFA spokesperson, according to ESPN. “There is no ground for any speculations (of compensation).”