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2018 World Cup 'agreed before vote'

International Sports

Sepp Blatter Sepp Blatter Suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter has suggested there was an agreement in place for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup - before the vote took place.

The 79-year-old told Russian news agency Tass of a "discussion" in 2010 about future World Cups.

He added a late swing in voting that gave Qatar the 2022 World Cup undid a similar agreement to hand it to the US.

The Swiss is serving a 90-day ban alongside Uefa chief Michel Platini and both deny any wrongdoing.

Asked whether it was a mistake to hold voting for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments simultaneously, Blatter replied that before the ballot: "It was agreed inside the group that we go to Russia because it has never been to eastern Europe, and for 2022 we go back to America.

"And so we would have the World Cup in the two biggest political powers."

But he added that four votes from Europe later switched from the USA to Qatar.

The bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments is the subject of an ongoing Swiss criminal investigation. It was begun alongside a US inquiry following the arrest and indictment of several top executives by the US Department of Justice on corruption charges.

In a wide-ranging interview, Blatter, who will be replaced as head of world football's governing body at an election on 26 February, also said:

Russia will "never" lose the 2018 World Cup England are "bad losers" over perceived media criticism of the 2018 and 2022 Word Cup bidding process

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His own current suspension is a "total nonsense" and the Fifa ethics committee has failed him

Simon Johnson, chief operating officer of England's failed 2018 World Cup bid, reacted angrily to Blatter's comments, saying England's Football Association had "every right to bring legal action against Fifa".

The FA spent 21m, including 2.5m of public money from local authorities, on England's attempt to host the 2018 tournament.

"All the way through the process we were being told by high ranking Fifa officials that as long as we put together a strong bid and a good presentation we would have a lot to offer," Johnson told BBC Radio 5 live.

He said they had "played by the rules" during the bid and "right until the night before" the vote they thought they had "every chance".

FA chairman Greg Dyke says the governing body will investigate Blatter's revelation there was a pre-vote agreement to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia.

Dyke, giving evidence to the UK Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said it would be "very nice to get taxpayers' money back", adding the FA would "talk to our own lawyers, but this is uncharted territory".

Blatter on 'jealous' Platini

Blatter said it was "his dream" for his ban to end in time to conduct the February congress when the election to replace him with one of seven candidates will take place.

He also admitted he should have stood down after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil but stayed because of concerns that Uefa, European football's governing body, would become too dominant within Fifa.

"The other confederations were afraid that Uefa would take over everything because they have the money and the players," said Blatter.

"Uefa has an anti-Fifa virus."

Uefa president Platini was the target for most of Blatter's criticism, with the Frenchman accused of being motivated by "envy and jealousy".

The two are currently suspended while Fifa investigates a 1.35m payment made to Platini in 2011, which the pair say was for work he did as Blatter's adviser.

"At the beginning it was only a personal attack - it was Platini against me," said Blatter.

"He started it, but then it became politics and when it is in politics, it is not any longer Platini against me.

"It is then those who have lost the World Cup - England against Russia. They lost the World Cup and the USA lost the World Cup against Qatar.

He added: "Platini wanted to be Fifa president but he did not have the courage to go as the president and now we are in such a situation in football."

A spokesman for Fifa's ethics committee investigatory chamber told BBC Sport it was "reading with interest" Blatter's comments but declined to comment further.

Meanwhile, the former head of Brazilian football, Jose Maria Marin, 83, has agreed to be extradited from Switzerland to the US to face corruption charges, Swiss authorities say.

He was among seven Fifa officials arrested at a Zurich hotel in May after they were indicted by the US on corruption charges.

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