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Sat 20 Feb 2016 11:51 AM

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Former FIFA chief insists 2022 World Cup vote was not fixed

Sepp Blatter says tournament won by Qatar was not subject to corruption but 'higher political influences'

Former FIFA chief insists 2022 World Cup vote was not fixed
Sepp Blatter. (AFP/Getty Images)

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has strongly denied in a new interview that the vote to host the 2022 World Cup, won by Qatar, was fixed.

In comments published by The Times newspaper in the UK, he 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 was quoted as saying.

Blatter claimed that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy asked UEFA president Michel Platini not to vote for the United States to host the 2022 World Cup, which was eventually awarded to Qatar. The Frenchman previously denied this.

Blatter reportedly told The Times: "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."

Football's governing body will elect a successor to Blatter on February 26.

Blatter won a fifth Fifa presidential election in May but was banned for eight years for a "disloyal payment" of £1.3 million to Platini who is also under investigation for alleged criminal mismanagement, but has always denied any wrongdoing.

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 president.

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