Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said that political pressure was exerted by France and Germany prior to the votes that resulted in the World Cups of 2018 and 2022 being awarded to Russia and Qatar, respectively.

Blatter told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that “there were two political interventions” from former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his German counterpart Christian Wulff before the ballot held on December 2, 2022.

“Messrs Sarkozy and Wulff tried to influence their voting representatives. That’s why we now have a World Cup in Qatar. Those who decided it should take responsibility for it,” said Blatter.

“I act on the leadership principal. If a majority of the executive committee wants a World Cup in Qatar then I have to accept that.”

He suggested that the German football federation (DFB) were advised by Wulff “to vote for Qatar out of economic interests”.

Franz Beckenbauer, an executive committee member at the time, has never revealed which country he voted for.

Blatter also denied responsibility for the plight of migrant labourers building stadiums in Qatar amid reports of human rights abuses.

“Look at the German companies!” he said. “Deutsche Bahn, Hochtief and many more had projects in Qatar even before the World Cup was awarded.”

Blatter said he was now focused on saving Fifa, which has been rocked by a widening American corruption probe.

“I’m there now to fight. Not for myself but for Fifa,” said Blatter. “Self-doubt is a leader’s greatest enemy.”

Blatter announced within days of his relection in June that he would stand as Fifa president. However, he said his decision to depart was not connected to the US and Swiss investigations into wrongdoing.

“Is Fifa responsible from the top down for everything in football, what happens in some village somewhere around the world?” asked Blatter.

“Everyone has fears, for example of death, but with regard to my work at Fifa I have no fear. I’ve nothing to be afraid of.

“I’m afraid that they want to wreck Fifa, a work that I helped create,” the 79-year-old said.

Blatter said he accepts criticism but “what hurts are hateful tirades. They come from envy”.

Blatter, who is under investigation by the FBI, did not travel to Canada for the Women’s World Cup final in Vancouver on Sunday.

“Until everything is clarified I won’t take any travel risks,” he added.