Sepp Blatter doesn't think that he and FIFA would be in the position they are in if the United States had been awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup. The FIFA president spoke at a press conference following the ethics committee's announcement that he and UEFA president Michel Platini would be banned from the sport for eight years.
"If we had awarded the World Cup in 2022 the USA, we would not be here," said Blatter.
The U.S. was in the running to host the 2022 World Cup, but Qatar was named the surprised winner. Since, there have been accusations of corruption and bribery regarding the bid process and vote that landed Qatar the tournament. FIFA established an ethics committee, which suspended Blatter on Monday, and the U.S. Department of Justice has made a slew of arrests of FIFA members for corruption.
Is it possible that Blatter would still be in power had the U.S. been awarded the World Cup? Possibly, and it would be naive to assume otherwise. That was a tipping point, forcing people to acknowledge the rampant corruption in the sport instead of pushing it aside.
For Blatter to place all the blame on the 2022 World Cup is laughable, though. Part of the reason the 2022 World Cup bidding set off alarms and brought heat on FIFA and Blatter is because it was rife with corruption. Had FIFA not been corrupt -- and that might mean awarding the World Cup to Australia or Japan or South Korea instead -- then of course the spotlight wouldn't be on them for corruption.
There's also the matter of Blatter promising wide-ranging reform over the last five years and doing very little about it. He only enacted one measure of importance, the ethics committee, and they are the ones who banned him. But Blatter will always talk.
"In 2010 we had a dream. We said we will open the World Cup to two terms," Blatter said in the press conference. "We had the idea that in 2018 the World Cup should go to a country that has never had the World Cup in Europe.
"I will fight. I will fight for me and I will fight for FIFA. Suspended for what? I spoke with my lawyer this morning and we were not surprised that the notification was made first to the media. This committee has no right to go against the president of FIFA. The president can only be removed by the congress. Even suspended, I am still the president. I regret, but I am not ashamed."