FIFA president Sepp Blatter has come out fighting in defence of the decision to give the World Cup to Russia and Qatar.
Insisting losing bidders – in particular England – accept the decision gracefully, Blatter argued the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 competitions were “natural” choices.
England’s 2018 bid won just two of the 22 FIFA members votes and officials there have criticised FIFA for not making clear their intention to prefer countries that had not hosted the tournament before.
Blatter went on to explain: “When I became the FIFA president, the decision was made to go into Asia. And then I said we had to go to Africa, which is what we did. It’s only natural, then, that we should keep on moving into new regions.
“We have made historic decisions in terms of sport and geopolitics. We’ve sent the World Cup to new territories.
“The 2018 World Cup will go to eastern Europe and the vast country that is Russia, and the 2022 event will go to Qatar, in the Arab world.
“The World Cup will discover new cultures in new regions, and that’s something I’m delighted about.”
Blatter had taken a personal role in taking the World Cup to South Africa, with the tournament proving a success earlier this year.
South Korea and Japan jointly hosted the 2002 World Cup, while Germany was awarded the honour in 2006.
Asked if he understood the disappointment of the losing candidates, Blatter added: “Yes, but maybe some people have forgotten that in football you have to learn to lose as well as to win.
“It was a competition,” continued Blatter.
“Some people won, some people lost. That’s normal. The sporting media don’t always appreciate the social or cultural importance of awarding the World Cup finals to a country.
“They just think about penalties, corners, refereeing and money. But, as I’ve already said, this decision wasn’t about making money,” concluded the FIFA president.
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