The Football Association will investigate a surprise admission by Fifa’s outgoing president, Sepp Blatter, that a decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia had been made before a vote had taken place.
In an interview with the Russian state news agency Tass, Blatter claimed: “In 2010 we had a discussion of the World Cup and then we went to a double decision.
“For the World Cups it was agreed that we go to Russia [in 2018] because it’s never been in Russia, eastern Europe, and for 2022 we go back to America. And so we will have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers.”
This agreement, he said, fell apart when his former protégé and now enemy Michel Platini went for an infamous lunch with the then French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Crown Prince of Qatar.
“And everything was good until the moment when Sarkozy came in a meeting with the Crown Prince of Qatar, who is now the ruler of Qatar [Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani]. And at a lunch afterwards with Mr Platini he said it would be good to go to Qatar. And this has changed all pattern.”
Since that point England, who had bid to host the 2018 finals, had been “bad losers” over Russia winning, and the US investigation into Fifa had been prompted by its loss in the 2022 vote.
“There was an election by secret ballot,” said Blatter. “Four votes from Europe went away from the USA and so the result was 14 to eight. If you put the four votes, it would have been 12 to 10.
“If the USA was given the World Cup, we would only speak about the wonderful World Cup 2018 in Russia and we would not speak about any problems at Fifa,” he added.
Asked about the interview, the FA chairman, Greg Dyke, said, “Nothing Mr Blatter says surprises me any more”, adding that the suspended Fifa president had given “a whole series of strange interviews” since he announced his decision to quit as Fifa president five months ago.
Dyke, who was giving evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, told MPs: “We will look in detail at what Mr Blatter says. I suspect the response will be, ‘I was misquoted’.
“If he [doesn’t] say that, I think there is something to investigate.”
Dyke added that it “would be nice to get some of the taxpayers’ money back” with regard to the £21m that was spent on what Blatter had intimated was a rigged process.
In the Tass interview, Blatter was asked to explain the two million Swiss franc (£1.35m) payment made to Platini, which has caused both men to be suspended from Fifa.
Video: World Cup bid looks 'fixed', says FA chairman Dyke
The two men have said it was a payment for work Platini had done for Fifa between 1998 and 2002, but it was not paid until 2011, and there was no written contract.
Blatter said: “When he [Platini] was chairman of the organising committee for the France World Cup, he told me at the end of the cup, ‘I would like to work for you’. And I said this is great because we all already worked with him. It was in 1998. And then he said, ‘I am very expensive’. I said ‘OK’. So he said, ‘I am worth one million a year’. I said I cannot pay this, it’s impossible. And he said, ‘OK, then pay me later’. So we have made some contract, where he got some money, but not one million.
“He was working until he was elected in 2002 to the Fifa executive committee and Uefa executive committee. He stopped his working contract because he was then an official of Fifa. He never touched this item until 2010.
“In 2010 he approached the financial director of Fifa by saying, ‘Hey, listen, Fifa owes us money’. I was informed about that and I said, ‘OK, let him make an invoice of this what we owe him’.
“And then he said we owe him two million Swiss francs. And then I analysed that and I said, ‘OK. Yes, it’s a contract we have made.’
“And it’s a principle I have in my life that if you owe money to somebody, then you pay it. Then we paid it. That’s all. This money was not paid for any other reasons.”
That this payment never appeared in Fifa’s official accounts is itself potentially illegal. Dyke said: “A verbal contract, 10 years later, seems to me to be unrealistic.”
Prior to Platini’s suspension from all football, the FA had given its public backing to the Uefa president in the Fifa presidential election.
Dyke said: “We had been impressed by Mr Platini in the time that he’s been president of Uefa. We think he’s done a good job. And supporting the Uefa candidate would be the best thing for us, if he won.
He said that the FA would “not do what we did before” with regard to choosing a new candidate to support from the seven Fifa said were intending to stand. “We won’t back a candidate until we have seen all the manifestos,” he stated, adding that “the process of reform” would be more important than the identity any new candidate.
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