Blatter: European leaders told us to vote for Qatar to host World Cup
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has claimed that European politicians pressured FIFA members to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.
Blatter says there was "direct political influences" involved, in what appears to be a dig at UEFA president Michel Platini, who is considering whether to run for FIFA's top position.
Platini is the only FIFA member to have confirmed he voted for Qatar but has always insisted he did so to take the World Cup to the Middle East for the first time, and was not pressured by then French president Nicolas Sarkozy in order to secure trade deals with Qatar.
Blatter told German magazine Die Zeit: "Yes, definitely there was direct political influences. European leaders recommended to their voting members to vote for Qatar, because they have great economic interests with this country."
Blatter also referred to FIFA's ethics committee's investigation into the bidding process which was begun in November last year but which has so far not yielded any findings.
"We have set up a new, independent ethics commission to re-examine the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar," added Blatter.
Platini has always strenuously denied any politicians influencing his vote and says he would vote for Qatar again if there was another election.
Sarkozy invited Platini to a dinner with Sheikh Hamad Al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar, in the Elysee Palace 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."