FIFA head Blatter says political pressure behind Qatar World Cup

Blatter alleged that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany’s Christian Wulff backed Qatar as the host for the 2022 World Cup

The head of football governing body FIFA Sepp Blatter has said that France and Germany applied political pressure to award the 2022 World Cup hosting rights to Qatar.

In an interview with Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Blatter alleged that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his German counterpart Christian Wulff pressurised their FIFA representatives to back Qatar and Russia as hosts for the 2022 and 2018 World Cups respectively.

“Before the World Cups were awarded to Russia and Qatar, there were two political interventions. Messrs Sarkozy and Wulff tried to influence their vote-makers. That is the reason why we now have a World Cup in Qatar,” he said.

He added: “Those who decided this should also take the responsibility.”

Following several allegations of corruption and bribery, Qatar’s World Cup win is currently under investigation by Swiss authorities. Qatari officials have denied the accusations.

Blatter, who is due to step down from FIFA’s presidency later this year, also claimed that the German football association “received such a recommendation that Germany should vote for Qatar due to economic interests.”

“Just look at all the German companies. The Deutsche Bahn, Hochtief and many more already had projects in Qatar before the World Cup was awarded there.

“I act on the leadership principle. If a majority of the executive committee wants a World Cup in Qatar then I have to accept that,” he added.

Qatar’s World Cup win has been mired in controversy ever since the Gulf state was awarded the hosting rights for the tournament in December 2010. The country’s hot summer temperatures, its mistreatment of foreign labour and allegations of bribery have all been cited as causes for concern.

However, Qatari foreign minister Khaled al-Attiyah told Reuters last month that criticism of his country was due to prejudice and racism.