Friday, September 20, 2013

Platini Confirms Political Influence in FIFA Qatar Vote

To some it will be a statement of the obvious, to others an admission that should ring alarm bells. Responding to the assertion of the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, that the Qatar 2022 World Cup was a "political" choice by European voters, the Uefa president, Michel Platini, has confirmed that "political and economic influences" were a factor.

The controversial selection of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup in December 2010 has resulted in a bitter row over whether the tournament should be moved to winter to avoid the searing summer heat, a move expected to be agreed in principle by Fifa next month.

Blatter, who voted for the US to host the 2022 tournament but has since become an advocate of moving it to winter, said in an interview this week that there was "definitely direct political influence" on European executive committee members to vote for Qatar.

"European leaders recommended to its voting members to opt for Qatar, because of major economic interests in the country," he told the German weekly Die Zeit.

Following a meeting of all 54 Uefa member associations in Dubrovnik, at which they confirmed in principle their support for a winter World Cup in 2022, Platini confirmed Blatter's comments. "With the extraordinary influence Mr Blatter has," Platini said, "he has only all of a sudden realised there are political and economic influences when we decide who will host an Olympic Games and so forth? It's better late than never I guess."

Platini sardonically added: "It's new, apparently. It was said that Europeans voted for Qatar but Qatar got 14 votes. We're only eight. If you subtract eight from 14 you get six left over."
The issue of how Qatar got 14 votes has been widely discussed. Here is how one Australian newspaper characterized the vote back in 2010:
UEFA boss Michel Platini reportedly gave his vote to Qatar on the request of his French President Nicolas Sarkozy after France signed a favourable oil deal with the tiny Middle Eastern nation.

When asked why so many of the ExCo had voted for Qatar, Mr [Peter] Hargitay [FIFA insider and consultant to Australia's failed bid] replied "You go figure it out. What do you think motivates people, 14 of them, to vote for a country the population of Zurich, to vote for a country that is the size of Fiji, to vote for a country where the infrastructure to play host to millions of fans still has to be created?"
You can see an overview of the so-called Qatargate issue here.


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