FIFA President Sepp Blatter has lifted the lid on the “political interventions” of France and Germany in relation to the roles their former presidents allegedly played in Russia and Qatar’s being awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, respectively.
Speaking to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag (via Associated Press), Blatter said that Christian Wulff and Nicolas Sarkozy, former presidents of Germany and France, respectively, applied pressure on their football federations to influence the vote:
Messrs Sarkozy and Wulff tried to influence their voting representatives. That’s why we now have a World Cup in Qatar. Those who decided it should take responsibility for it. I act on the leadership principal. If a majority of the executive committee wants a World Cup in Qatar then I have to accept that. …
… Look at the German companies! Deutsche Bahn, Hochtief and many more had projects in Qatar even before the World Cup was awarded.
According to Blatter, who announced his intention to resign as president just days after being re-elected on May 29 of this year, Wulff encouraged the DFB—Germany’s football federation—”to vote for Qatar out of economic interests.”
The conditions of migrant workers building Qatar’s new stadiums has hauled the nation’s World Cup allocation into the spotlight as one of the chief examples used against FIFA and the organisation’s alleged corruption.
A report by the BBC’s Wesley Stephenson recently pondered as to whether the supposed death toll of 1,200 workers was a reliable figure, but the human rights issues at hand are nevertheless evident.
Defending his fallen reputation as a leader in world football and a leader in FIFA’s action of recent years, Blatter went on to insist he won’t travel, and he is currently protected in his native Switzerland under laws of extradition:
Is FIFA responsible from the top down for everything in football, what happens in some village somewhere around the world? Everyone has fears, for example of death, but with regard to my work at FIFA I have no fear. I’ve nothing to be afraid of. I’m afraid that they want to wreck FIFA, a work that I helped create. …
… Until everything is clarified I won’t take any travel risks.
The accusations of Wulff and Sarkozy would work to divert some of the unwelcome attention off Blatter and to those other figures supposedly linked with FIFA’s dark dealings.
The Associated Press reports Blatter will be travelling to Russia on July 25 for the 2018 World Cup qualification draw, where he has the support of president Vladimir Putin.