Blatter blames Fifa crisis on winning Russia and Qatar bids

President says Wednesday’s dawn raid has ‘unleashed a storm’ as he bids for fifth term

Sepp Blatter claimed that FIFA's crisis would not have happened if countries other than Russia and Qatar had won the vote for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

In what appeared a reference to the United States and England losing out, Blatter called for unity from FIFA’s 209 associations ahead of the presidential election where the 79-year-old is standing for a fifth term of office.

Most of the media investigations into FIFA have come from Britain, while it is the US justice authorities that sparked the current crisis with the seven arrests this week and indictments of 18 people, 13 of them football officials.

Blatter told FIFA’s Congress in Zurich: “If two other countries had emerged from the envelope I think we may not have these problems. But we can’t go back in time, we’re not prophets, we can’t say what would have happened.”


Russia president Vladimir Putin on Thursday criticised the American indictments and claimed they were designed to undermine Blatter’s re-election as president — he is facing Prince Ali of Jordan in the vote later on Friday.

Blatter added of the police swoop which saw seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on Wednesday: “I am not going to use the word coincidence but I do have a small question mark.”

Blatter admitted the events of this week “unleashed a storm” ahead but appealed to delegates for unity, and said there had been a question mark over whether the Congress taking place.

FIFA also announced that the post-Congress press conference will take place on Saturday morning.

Blatter said: “The events of this week unleashed a storm.

“It was even questioned whether this Congress would go ahead but I am appealing for unity and team spirit to tackle the problems that have been created and to solve them.

It will not be done in a single day, it will take some time.

“The important point today is to move ahead — and the important point is transparency. We have a problem to solve.”

In a second address at the congress meeting, Mr Blatter said: "It's not good for all this to emerge just two days before Fifa presidential elections. I'm not going to use the word coincidence, but I do have a small question mark.

“But this also means that responsibility brings action with it — action that needs to be carried out at all levels by everybody.

“But you can’t ask everybody to behave ethically just like that.”

In a swipe at the Swiss investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Mr Blatter suggested “we would not have these problems” if Russia and Qatar were not the winners.

“They call into question 2018 and 2022.

“On December 2 2010, here in Zurich, when we decided on the two World Cups in one session, if two other countries had emerged from the envelope, I think we would not have these problems today.

“But we can’t go back in time, we are not prophets, we can’t say what would have happened.”

The meeting in Zurich was briefly disrupted by two protestors who unfurled a Palestinian flag — the Palestinian FA has demanded Israel be kicked out of FIFA - before they were removed by security.

Meanwhile British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged Blatter to step aside, saying “the sooner that happens the better”.

Cameron’s strongly-worded comments came after the Serious Fraud Office announced it was assessing “material in its possession” relating to allegations of corruption at the heart of world football’s governing body.

Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank were allegedly used to transfer cash as part of the conspiracy, US prosecutors allege.

The three British-based international banks were named on the indictment released by the US Department of Justice, which charged a total of 18 people over alleged bribes totalling more than 150 million US dollars (€137 million) for television rights, sponsorship deals and World Cup votes.

Speaking in Berlin about Blatter, the PM said: “In my view he should go. You cannot have accusations of corruption at this level and on this scale in this organisation and pretend that the person currently leading it is the right person to take it forward. That cannot be the case.

“Frankly what we have seen is the ugly side of the beautiful game and he should go.

“And the sooner that happens the better and the faster that organisation can start to rebuild its credibility which is so important because so many people around the world want to see this game properly managed, properly looked after so we can all enjoy the World Cups of the future.”