Blatter says Sarkozy helped Qatar land 2022 World Cup

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter alleged Monday that ex-French president Nicolas Sarkozy had played a crucial role in helping Qatar win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

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Blatter was speaking the day after FIFA was urged to launch an investigation into claims it was offered a secret television deal by Qatar’s state-run broadcaster Al-Jazeera just three weeks before it awarded the tournament to the Gulf state.

Documents published by British newspaper The Sunday Times appear to show that Al-Jazeera executives signed the television contract before the bidding campaigns to host the World Cup had finished.

Blatter reiterated his claim that then-UEFA president Michel Platini’s support for Qatar’s bid set in train a series of attacks on the FIFA chief that led to his unceremonious removal from the job he had held for 17 years.

“Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup after the political intervention of president Nicolas Sarkozy, who asked Michel Platini and his supporters to vote for Qatar,” Blatter told AFP.

“These four votes tipped the balance in favour of Qatar and against the USA. This situation sparked attacks from the losing parties on FIFA and me personally, from defeated England on Russia for the 2018 World Cup and from the USA, who lost to Qatar,” Blatter said.

Despite an extensive campaign featuring then-British prime minister David Cameron and Prince William, England was eliminated in the first round of voting for the 2018 World Cup, leaving Russia to defeat a joint Spain-Portugal bid by two votes in the second round.

For the 2022 tournament, Qatar swept to victory with 11 of the 22 votes, beating the USA, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Both votes were mired in controversy because half of the FIFA committee members who cast votes have since been suspended, banned for life, fined or prosecuted for corruption.

The Sunday Times alleged that the Al-Jazeera television contract included a fee of $100 million (89 million euros) that would be paid into a designated FIFA account if Qatar was successful in the World Cup ballot held in December 2010.