You can never escape politics, says Blatter

Reuters

ZURICH (Reuters) - Politics are intrinsically linked with the decisions to host major sporting events, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Friday as he discussed the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

"There is no awarding of a top level sporting competition such as the World Cup or Olympic Games without the political element showing up," he told a news conference.

"We were in Buenos Aires for the 2020 Olympic Games (vote) and you had the entire political world, the top political brass of all the countries, turning up.

"The same thing happened in Zurich when we chose the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, all the bidders were present. One could have believed that it was a political European summit and Asian summit as well.

"You cannot avoid political forces showing up and trying to influence the decision because these competitions project such as image, that not only sportsmen want to be privy to them.

"Politicians want to join in, they want to be there when the decision is taken."

Blatter admitted last month that top European politicians pressured FIFA to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

"There was direct political influence. European heads of governments advised voting FIFA members to vote for Qatar because of the wide financial interests linked with that country," Blatter told Germany's Die Zeit newspaper.

UEFA president Michel Platini, a possible successor to Blatter, has said in the past he had dinner with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the head of Qatar's government prior to the vote but denied being told by the French politician to vote for the Middle Eastern bid.

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Ed Osmond

Reuters Messaging: brian.homewood.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net. To sign up for our Global Sports Forum chatroom, click on https://forms.thomsonreuters.com/global_sports_forum (Reporting by Brian Homewood)

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