The FA were given the green light today to bid for the 2026 World Cup in an apparent U-turn by Sepp Blatter to appease his European critics.
At the first meeting of his new-look FIFA executive committee — minus three members, including David Gill who has refused to serve as a vice-president under Blatter — the Swiss also said there would be no change to the number of finalists for the foreseeable future.
Uefa meet in an emergency session in Berlin next Saturday to devise a strategy for countering Blatter’s re-election. Europe and Asia, as 2018 and 2022 hosts, had been excluded from bidding for the 2026 World Cup but Blatter said yesterday that now only applies to Asia.‘We decided that all associations can ask to host the World Cup [in 2026] except for those in the continent of 2022. All others can present bids.’
However, FA chairman Greg Dyke said there would be no bid from England while Blatter was in power. ‘We won’t bid for anything while Blatter is president, I can assure you,’ he said. ‘Why waste the money.’Blatter’s olive branch appeared to be designed to counter a Uefa mutiny and to stop them pulling out of Fifa. He also said he would not be increasing World Cup participants, something his vanquished challenger, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, had promised.
‘We agreed to have the same distribution of 32. It was accepted by everyone though some were more grumpy than others,’ said Blatter.He took a swipe at Gill who said he will relinquish the post of vice-president rather than work with the 79-year-old Swiss but Blatter retorted: ‘He’s given no excuse for not being present. If you are elected and don’t come to the first meeting, that’s not taking responsibility.’
Blatter also went on the offensive over the police dawn raids that resulted in seven key arrests of fifa personnel .
He claimed that it was a concerted attempt to destabilise him and his organisation, insisting it was a US-Western media conspiracy of ‘sour grapes’ after missing out on the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
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