French, German presidents tried to influence World Cup votes: Blatter in paper

Sun Jul 5, 2015 10:04am EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters) - The embattled president of FIFA, the governing body for world soccer, told a German newspaper the presidents of France and Germany tried to exert political pressure before the World Cup was awarded to Russia and Qatar.

Sepp Blatter has become entangled in a corruption investigation of the sport's governing body, which involves the decision to hold the World Cup in the two countries. Blatter has not been accused of any wrongdoing, but he has retained an attorney.

In a story published on Sunday, the newspaper Welt am Sonntag quoted Blatter as saying: "Before the World Cup was awarded to Russia and Qatar, there were two political interventions.

"Mr (Nicolas) Sarkozy and (Christian) Wulff tried to influence their voting representatives. Therefore, we now have a World Cup in Qatar. The people who decided this should also take responsibility," he added.

No one was immediately available at Sarkozy's office or Wulff's office to comment. Welt am Sonntag reported, however, that Wulff had denied trying to influence the vote in his book.

In May, Swiss authorities arrested seven FIFA officials as part of an investigation into a global bribery scandal. The U.S. Department of Justice has now asked that Switzerland extradite the seven to the United States.

Also in May, U.S. prosecutors announced they had indicted nine current and former FIFA officials and five sports marketing businessmen in connection with a corruption investigation.

Welt am Sonntag quoted Blatter as saying the German football federation, DFB, had "received a recommendation (from Wulff) that Germany should vote for Qatar for economic interests".

FIFA said Blatter was correctly quoted.   Continued...

FIFA President Sepp Blatter leaves after his statement during a news conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, June 2, 2015.    REUTERS/Ruben Sprich