Zurich (AFP) – Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, told AFP on Wednesday that he had opposed awarding the 2020 World Cup to Qatar, but that he has a “clear conscience.”
Blatter said he is willing to testify to French prosecutors about the 2010 vote in favour of Qatar.
“If they ask me formally then I think I will go to France because I have a clear conscience,” said the 83-year-old who already testified in Switzerland in April, 2017, at the request of the French authorities.
Qatar beat Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to win the vote. However, the result has been consistently questioned.
A three-year-old French investigation, was recently entrusted to a Paris investigative magistrate charged with looking specifically for “active and passive corruption”.
Six months ago, Michael Platini, who was vice-president of FIFA and UEFA president at the time, was questioned about his decision to vote in favour of Qatar.
The investigators are particularly interested in a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 23, 2010, just over a week before the vote, between French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Qatari prince Tamim ben Hamad al-Thani –- who became Emir in 2013 –- and Platini who subsequently voted for Qatar.
“When Platini said that he would have voted for Qatar anyway, especially for the development of football, it is not true,” said Blatter.
“We had a consensus within the Executive Committee of FIFA, which planned to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to the United States.
“Everything went well until eight days before the election when there was this famous dinner at the Elysee.
“Platini phoned me immediately after. He told me: ‘Sepp, it’s not going to work, we will have a problem for the election.’ President Sarkozy had asked him, suggested, to vote for Qatar,” said Blatter, who reported this telephone conversation to the Swiss judge in April 2017.
“I said to Platini ‘Did he force you?’ He said ‘Not at all, but when a head of state asks you to do something, you do it so I will follow and I will take my friends with me’.”
“His friends were the Cypriot Marios Lefkaritis, the Belgian Michel D’Hooghe who would have voted for Qatar anyway, his son having already had a post in Qatar, and the Spaniard Angel Maria Villar. So it made four voices that tipped the vote.”
Blatter, who was ousted from office in 2015, is serving a six-year ban from FIFA activities because of a separate payment of 2 million Swiss francs (1.84 million euros) to Platini.
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