First Published: 2018-03-09

Blatter backs 2026 World Cup in Morocco
Blatter says he is growing impatient with corruption investigation which led to his and Michel Platini's downfall.
Middle East Online

Blatter was president of FIFA from 1998 until June 2015

ZURICH - Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Thursday that he is growing impatient with the corruption investigation which led to his and Michel Platini's downfall.

Blatter said "nothing" had happened since September 2015, the date of the opening of proceedings against him for "corrupt management" stemming from the two million Swiss Franc (1.8mn euro, $2mn) payment to Platini, the former head of European governing body UEFA, adding "it's a bit long".

In a wide-ranging interview, the 82-year-old also expressed his support for the 2026 World Cup to be staged in Morocco and not awarded to the United States/Canada/Mexico bid.

Blatter was president of FIFA from 1998 until June 2015 when he quit days after winning re-election for a fifth term as a wave of scandals broke.

He was later banned from football by FIFA for eight years, a sentence then reduced to six years over a payment to Platini, his former friend and ally.

Blatter said that he and Platini were the victims of a "double elimination."

"In certain circles they did not want Platini to become president of FIFA because he was the reason the 2022 World Cup was not awarded to the USA (but to Qatar). And others, including some within FIFA, said 'we've had enough of Blatter'."

Blatter also said he wants the 2026 World Cup to be staged in Morocco, claiming that joint bids are a "nightmare".

"My heart beats for Africa," he said. "After the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, we came to the conclusion that having co-organisation was a nightmare.

"We decided that as long as we had a single nomination, it would be privileged. It was a written law. If Morocco is able to organize this World Cup with 48 teams, then it must be chosen."

Meanwhile, Blatter said that many of his positive contributions at FIFA have been ignored or dismantled.

"We worked on a medical strategy," he said adding that after successor Gianni Infantino's arrival, "FIFA immediately put an end to the health program, it's a mistake.

"We had created a committee against racism, it was not very active, but it was there. It has also been removed. Racism is still there."

-'Show me more respect'-

"When I left, FIFA's finances were booming, with $1.4bn in reserves," Blatter said.

"They could therefore show me more respect."

Infantino has also changed the personnel of the ethics committees.

That, said Blatter, can only further delay his attempt to have his sentence overturned

"How can they reopen the case with the new members of the ethics committee? They will take at least a year to understand the case."

Unlike Blatter, Platini has fought his own, four-year, ban in the civil courts. After being rebuffed by a Swiss tribunal, the Frenchman appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The lawyers of both men were summoned two weeks ago by the Swiss courts in Bern.

"Two weeks ago the Swiss court heard the Platini clan in Bern, my lawyer was also present and he again showed that the payment to Platini was done correctly," Blatter explained.

Platini is 62 and Blatter believes he could still have a future in UEFA or FIFA.

"Platini is young and I know he thinks about it," Blatter said. "Surely he thinks of it, he cannot give up like that, because he is suffering now. A return? It would be really deserved."

Blatter also wants to be cleared.

"I wish we could finish," Blatter said. "What I want to do is work alongside Swiss justice but also find the arguments necessary to obtain a reversal of the decision of the (FIFA) ethics commission."


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