France investigating bids for 2018 and 2022 World Cups

French prosecutors are investigating potential corruption behind the FIFA’s vote for Russia and Qatar to respectively host the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals.

France’s National Public Prosecutor’s Office began examining the bid to award the tournaments to both countries last year.

The investigation by the Parquet National Financier (PNF) meant there are now criminal investigations in at least three countries into the World Cup vote.

The US criminal proceedings headed by the Department of Justice have said their investigation includes the vote, as has the Swiss attorney general, Michael Lauber, whose office said last February it was examining 152 reports of suspicious financial activity relating to the process. No criminal investigations relating to the 2010 vote have yet begun.

Sources said that investigators have interviewed Sepp Blatter, who was the FIFA president at the time of the controversial December 2010 vote by a majority of the executive committee.

On the other hand, Michel Platini, the then UEFA president whose decision to cast his vote for Qatar was crucial to the Gulf state winning a majority vote, has not been interviewed.

Blatter has always denied any wrongdoing relating to the World Cup vote, or any other aspect of his 17-year tenure as the FIFA president, and has insisted he will not be charged with any criminal offences.

He also claimed that he wanted and lobbied for the 2022 World Cup to be hosted by the US, and has criticised Platini for changing his vote in favour of Qatar.

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