Blatter opposed to joint World Cup bids

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Former Fifa president Sepp Blatter has reiterated his view that World Cups should be staged in one country rather than co-hosted by multiple nations.

Blatter, 82, said football’s world governing body is now interested in co-hosted World Cups because it wants to increase the tournament to 48 teams.

A decision on the hosts of the 2026 World Cup will be made on 13 June.

United States, Canada and Mexico have made a joint bid while Morocco has also bid to host the event.

“To have three big countries together… they have proven they can host it alone, so why are the three together?” Blatter told Mani Djazmi, from the BBC’s World Football programme.

Disgraced former president Blatter was in charge of football for 17 years until he was banned amid a corruption scandal in 2015.

The World Cup has only been staged in more than one country once when it was co-hosted by South Korea and Japan in 2002, a tournament Blatter says was a “nightmare in organisation”.

He said joint bids were denied from Libya and Tunisia for the 2010 tournament, and Spain and Portugal, and Belgium and the Netherlands for 2018, because of a decision from Fifa not to consider a “combined organisation”.

Blatter has also criticised a taskforce introduced for the 2026 bidding process which has the power to exclude a bid to host the competition before the vote at Fifa’s congress.

“They cannot do that,” Blatter said.

“Even if one of the candidates is not a good one, they have the right to be at the congress.

“That’s why I’m advocating that Morocco has to go to the congress. Morocco cannot be kicked out before the congress.”

Blatter on his personal health & corruption

Blatter was banned for eight years, later reduced to six, over ethics breaches when he was found to have made a £1.3m “disloyal payment” to ex-Uefa boss Michel Platini.

Asked if he said he was confident of clearing his name Blatter said “yes, absolutely”.

“What I have done – or what we have done?” he added. “We have decided to pay a salary which we promised to pay him and it has been in all the books of Fifa.

“What’s not moral about paying a salary to somebody? It’s a contrary, and it will not stand in a tribunal, absolutely not.”

At the end of 2015 Blatter said he was “close to dying” following the ethics scandal.

“It was not an illness, it was just a shock,” Blatter said on those comments. “Fortunately for me my heart and my brain were always functioning and the rest is not so important.”

Blatter said he would “definitely not” return to Fifa if his ban was overturned and said he was “disappointed” that “discussions” of a Nobel Peace prize ended when he was suspended.

“There was no reason to suspend me – history will show it. The idea was never the Nobel Prize for me, but for Fifa, for the activity we have done in Fifa.”

Blatter on controversial League of Nations

Blatter has also criticised Fifa’s plan for a League of Nations, saying “the rich will become richer, and those who have less, they remain poor” due to the tournament.

The new global league would effectively end international friendlies and see teams play competitive games against regional neighbours.

Uefa’ has already initiated its own Nations League, which begins after the World Cup.

“This is not the idea in the development programmes we started 30 or 40 years ago,” Blatter said.

“This is not the right thing, it is not my philosophy of football and it should not be the philosophy of football for those who like the good game.”

The world governing body is also looking to expand the Club World Cup – it has said a revamped format, together with a League of Nations tournament, could prove highly lucrative.

Blatter’s view on the changes has been echoed by the World League Forum, which represents 36 major football leagues, including the Premier League and La Liga.

After meeting earlier this week, it said any measures that “impact negatively upon the already congested match calendar will be vigorously opposed”.

Analysis

by Mani Djazmi, BBC World Football

We spoke for almost an hour and a half in which Blatter, dressed sharply in black jacket, waistcoat and white shirt, was sometimes calm, sometimes jokey, and sometimes rambling.

He spoke of his shock at being banned by Fifa, and being in denial at the time that it would be anything to worry about.

Blatter’s response to the charge that he must have known about the corruption of his colleagues – some of whom were arrested by Swiss police in 2015 – is that their activities were outside Fifa.

I read him a list of names of colleagues whose corrupt activities were most definitely connected to Fifa, and the World Cup.

“Well, listen,” he said, before replying with an answer of almost four minutes in which he stated he has never been found guilty of corruption.

Was it the old politician’s trick of answering the question he would rather have been asked?

I brought him back to the point and put it to him that the fact that he was unaware of such rampant corruption is difficult for many people to believe.

His answer was that he managed by confidence, not control. He trusted too easily, and was betrayed.

But as the conversation turned towards matters on the pitch, his face became a consistent smile.

He spoke about how he’s looking forward to attending the World Cup as merely a fan, albeit one invited by Russian president Vladimir Putin, and predicted a three-way tussle between Germany, France and Brazil, confidently assuring me that Neymar will be fully fit.

Source: BBC

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