Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter has insisted the vote to host the 2022 World Cup was not fixed, saying: “You cannot buy a World Cup.”
The 79-year-old protested his innocence of corruption allegations as he awaits the outcome of an appeal against an eight-year ban from the sport.
“I am sure there is justice in this world and that I have committed nothing which goes to criminal law,” he said.
Football’s governing body will elect a successor to the Swiss on 26 February.
Blatter won a fifth Fifa presidential election in May but was banned for eight years for a “disloyal payment” of £1.3m to suspended Uefa president Michel Platini.
He is also under investigation for alleged criminal mismanagement, but has always denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking to The Times, Blatter claimed that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy asked Platini not to vote for the United States to host the 2022 World Cup, which was eventually awarded to Qatar. Former France midfielder Platini has previously denied this.
Blatter said: “You cannot buy a World Cup, it will go at the end where the higher political influences are.
“For 2022, Platini at least had the courtesy to phone me and say, ‘now we have had a meeting with the head of state and if the head of state is asking me to support France for different reasons then I will’. He said ‘my vote will not be for the Americans’.
“I knew then there would be a problem. We tried but it was too late.”
Blatter returned to Fifa headquarters this week as his appeal was heard, with Fifa’s ethics committee hoping to increase his punishment to a lifetime ban.
He said: “I have killed nobody, I have not robbed a bank, I have not taken any money from anywhere and I was even treating well all my ex-girlfriends.
“It’s true. They defend me. One I was married to only for a few months and she is really defending me.”
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Gianni Infantino, Tokyo Sexwale and Jerome Champagne are the five candidates to replace Blatter as Fifa president.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.