Sepp Blatter says holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a ‘mistake’

Sepp Blatter says holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a ‘mistake’

Sepp Blatter, a former FIFA President, has said that the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a “mistake”.

The 86-year-old, who was FIFA president when Qatar was awarded the 2020 World Cup hosting rights in 2010, made the comment in an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger.

Qatar is facing a lot of criticism over its stance on same-sex relationships, human rights records, and the treatment of migrant workers. Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman has recently said that homosexuality is “damage in the mind”. The tournament also had to be moved to November and December due to heat wave.

FIFA’s decision to stage the World Cup in Qatar has also been the subject of scepticism after several members of the executive committee who voted in 2010 were later convicted or indicted in criminal or ethics cases.

Sepp Blatter says holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a ‘mistake’

Mr. Blatter, who maintains he did not vote for Qatar, was FIFA president for 17 years but was forced to step down in 2015 over allegations he unlawfully arranged a transfer of two million Swiss francs ($2.2 million) to former UEFA President, Michel Platini, who was also forced to resign from his position at FIFA.

FIFA initially banned Blatter from football for eight years, later reduced to six, over the payment to Platini. Blatter’s ban was extended to 2028 for violations of FIFA’s code of ethics.

Speaking to the Swiss newspaper, Blatter said Qatar is “too small of a country” to host the tournament.

He said;

“The choice of Qatar was a mistake. At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA should get it in 2022.

“It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.

 “It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”

Sepp Blatter says holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a ‘mistake’

Blatter also blamed Michel Platini, the former UEFA president, for allowing the tournament to be handed to the Gulf state.

The former FIFA President claimed Platini was instrumental in directing four votes from European countries to Qatar, following pressure from Nicolas Sarkozy, the then president of France.

He added;

“Thanks to the four votes of Platini and his [Uefa] team, the World Cup went to Qatar rather than the United States. It’s the truth,” Blatter said.

“Platini told me he had been invited to the Élysée Palace, where French president Sarkozy had just had lunch with the Crown Prince of Qatar.

“Sarkozy said to Platini: ‘See what you and your colleagues from Uefa can do for Qatar when the World Cup is awarded.’ I then asked him: ‘And how?’”

Sepp Blatter says holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a ‘mistake’

Blatter alleged that when he queried Platini, the ex-UEFA president asked him;

“‘Sepp, what would you do if your president asked you for something?

“I then told him that the question didn’t arise for me because we don’t have a president in Switzerland.”

Blatter also said FIFA had adjusted the criteria used to select host countries in 2012 after concerns were raised about the treatment of migrant workers building World Cup stadiums in Qatar.

He said;

“Since then, social considerations and human rights are taken into account.” 

The World Cup in Qatar begins on November 20.