By Yusuf Mutiu
Ex FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, has called the decision to take the World Cup fiesta to Qatar as a “mistake.”
The FIFA executive committee had in 2010 voted 14-8 to give Qatar the hosting right against the United States.
Blatter in an interview with AFP’s German sports subsidiary SID, said “It was a mistake. It was based on a decision when I was president, and therefore I bear part of the responsibility for it.”
The former President confirms that he voted in favor of United States ahead of Qatar and chides former UEFA president Michel Platini for manipulating the vote in favor of Qatar to fulfill the promise he made to then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Sarkozy had recommended to Platini “that he and his people should vote for Qatar,” Blatter said.
Platini, on the other hand, has since denied the allegations by the former President of FIFA.
Platini told French investigators that while he attended a lunch at the Elysee Palace with Sarkozy and then-Qatari crown Prince Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani shortly before the vote, “the president (Sarkozy) never asked me to vote for one country or another, but I got the impression that he supported Qatar.”
The Qatar World Cup is the first to be held in the Middle East and the first during the northern hemisphere winter.
The vote to award the tournament to Qatar was surrounded by accusations of corruption.
“I didn’t care if someone was influenced here or there,” Blatter said, adding that as the voting process went on, he realised that “other forces were at work”.
“The Qataris didn’t give gifts to the people who were voting, they gave them to their countries,” Blatter said.
Blatter was FIFA president for 17 years but was forced to step down in 2015 over allegations that he unlawfully arranged a transfer of two million Swiss francs ($2.2 million) to Platini, who was also forced to resign from his position at FIFA.
FIFA initially banned Blatter from football for eight years, later reduced to six, over the payment to Platini. Blatter’s ban was extended to 2028 for violations of FIFA’s code of ethics.
Blatter and Platini were found not guilty of fraud at a trial in Switzerland in July.