Sepp Blatter: what he said on Qatar World Cup ‘mistake’, Platini and Sarkozy involvement - Netflix documentary
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The 86-year-old made the comments as part of his first major interview since being acquitted with Platini in July of financial misconduct at Fifa following a trial in a federal criminal court.
“It’s a country that’s too small,” Blatter said of Qatar, the smallest host by size since the 1954 tournament in Switzerland. “Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”
“It was a bad choice. And I was responsible for that as president at the time,” added Blatter who has stated that he voted for the United States to host the competition. Its bid was defeated in the last round of a five-candidate competition to host the 2022 tournament finals.
HIs comments come as brand new Netflix documentary FIFA Uncovered explores his claims ahead of the tournament in Qatar - just eleven days before the opening World Cup game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
Who is Sepp Blatter?
The demise of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter was one which gripped the entire world of football and threatened to tarnish the integrity of the sport.
Joseph "Sepp" Blatter is a Swiss former football administrator who served as the eighth President of FIFA from 1998 to 2015.
The fallout of the Qatar World Cup led to long term bans from football for both Blatter and former UEFA president Michael Platini.The pair were once regarded as the most powerful figures in world football and denied the charges against them, but have been banned from participating in FIFA activities until 2027.
On 2 December 2010, Qatar surprisingly won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup.In doing so they became the first ever arabic country to host the competition since it was founded in 1930.
Qatar had never previously qualified for the World Cup and is not a country that was renowned for its football heritage. Then FIFA president Blatter revealed that he had decided to take football “to new lands” in an attempt to “develop” the sport.
Allegations of vote buying were made, but an independent investigation commissioned by FIFA found no evidence of corruption whereas Qatar denied allegations of buying delegate votes. An investigation from French authorities is still ongoing while US officials also accused three FIFA officials of receiving payment in 2020.
Blatter and Platini also faced a trial in July 2022 following accusations of fraud. The trial was in relation to a payment of 2m Swiss francs that was made by Blatter to Platini in 2011.
The pair were found not guilty and prior to the verdict Blatter said: “I am not innocent in my life but in this case I am innocent.”
What has Blatter recently said?
The United States’ bid was defeated in the last round of a five-candidate competition to host the 2022 World Cup by Qatar.
It became part of Fifa lore that an expected US triumph shifted to Qatar during a meeting hosted by then President of France Sarkozy in Paris the week before the 2 December vote by Fifa’s executive committee.
Sarkozy welcomed ex-French footballer Platini, then president of European football body Uefa and vice president of Fifa, to his official residence. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s crown prince and now Emir, was also there.
Blatter reiterated on Tuesday (8 November) his accusation that Sarkozy placed pressure on Platini, and provided his account of a phone call Platini had made to him after the Paris meeting in which he informed him that the World Cup vote strategy had changed.
“Thanks to the four votes of Mr Platini and his (UEFA) team, the World Cup went to Qatar rather than the United States. It’s the truth,” Blatter said of the 14-8 voting result.
Platini largely affirmed the significance of that Paris summit in comments to the Associated Press in 2015. “Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good,” Platini told an AP reporter in Zurich seven years ago. He also said that he "might have told" American officials that he would support their 2022 bid.
During the recent interview, Blatter did not specifically refer to criticism of Qatar over labour and human rights issues since 2010. He did, however, question why his successor as Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, has been living in Qatar for at least a year.
“What can Fifa say if its president is in the same boat as Qatar?” Blatter said of Infantino’s decision to live in Doha.
How can I watch FIFA Uncovered?
The upcoming documentary FIFA Uncovered will be released on Wednesday 9 November - just eleven days before the opening World Cup game between hosts Qatar and Ecuador. FIFA Uncovered will be available to stream on Netflix.