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Sports Minister claims Blatter sabotaged World Cup bid

ESPN staff
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Hugh Robertson believes Sepp Blatter was responsible for England not getting the 2018 World Cup © Getty Images
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Sports Minister Hugh Robertson believes FIFA president Sepp Blatter may have scuppered England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

England lost out on hosting the World Cup in 2018 to Russia, and the MP has revealed suggestions of Blatter playing his part in the whole process.

"It was a strange and obscure bidding process; had it all been made clear I suspect we might not have bid," Robertson told Sky Sports News.

"There were a lot of FIFA delegates who looked at either the Prime Minister or Prince William in the eye and promised their vote, and then didn't deliver.

"Thirdly, there was a slightly unsatisfactory chapter. I've been told by a number of people in the room that Sepp Blatter, straight before the vote, stood up and reminded the delegates what the British press had done to them in the period running up to the vote.

"That must have influenced the way some of those delegates who promised to give us their vote then didn't. Those three things make me feel very uneasy as a Sports Minister about the whole process."

FIFA are set to hold a meeting this week to discuss switching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to winter, and Robertson says moving the tournament from the summer was always destined to happen.

"I didn't agree with the way the competition was run but there was a competition: Qatar won it, and congratulations to them.

"The ambition to take football to parts of the world that haven't staged major tournaments before is the right one. If we're going to do that, we're going to have to make some compromises over the timings of the English leagues, the North European leagues.

"The interesting thing is that there was nobody there during that bidding process who really thought that staging that World Cup in the summer was a sensible option, so to me it was always obvious it was going to be moved to the winter."

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