Sepp Blatter ‘admits 2018 World Cup vote was rigged’

Sepp Blatter shakes hands with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: AP
Sepp Blatter shakes hands with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: AP
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SEPP Blatter has revealed that an agreement was in place for Russia to secure the 2018 World Cup before the vote even took place.

The suspended FIFA president also told Russian news agency TASS that the 2022 World Cup was due to be held in the USA - until Michel Platini threw his support behind Qatar’s bid.

Australia, Japan and South Korea spent tens of millions of pounds on bids for the 2022 tournament, while England spent £21 million on a bid for the 2018 World Cup.

And FA chairman Greg Dyke has confirmed that English football’s governing body would be consulting its lawyers over the comments, admitting it would be ‘very nice’ to get the money back.

Spain and Portugal, and Belgium and the Netherlands also spent large sums on joint bids.

Blatter said: In 2010 we had a discussion of the World Cup and then we went to a double decision.

“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. And so we will have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers.

“And everything was good until the moment when [French president Nicolas] Sarkozy came in a meeting with the crown prince of Qatar, who is now the ruler of Qatar.

“And at a lunch afterwards with Mr Platini he said it would be good to go to Qatar. And this has changed all pattern.”

Dyke added: “We will look into detail at what Mr Blatter says. 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.”

Blatter, who faces criminal proceedings in relation to a payment of £1.3 million made to Platini in 2011 and TV rights deals sold to Jack Warner, said there was ‘no possibility’ that Russia wouldn’t be voted in as 2018 World Cup hosts.

Platini has defended himself over the payment in several interviews given to European newspapers.

He told The Daily Telegraph: “Is an oral contract legal in Switzerland? Yes. Did I have the right to reclaim my money even nine years later? Yes. Did I produce a proper invoice as FIFA required? Yes. Was the money declared to the taxman? Yes.

“FIFA had the right, after five years, not to pay me. But they decided to respect what was a perfectly valid arrangement.”