Former FIFA president, Sepp Blatter has admitted he made a mistake in awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
Blatter served as president of the football governing body for 17 year and was head of the federation in 2010 when Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup hosting rights. Speaking to Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, he said “Qatar is a mistake,” adding that “the choice was bad.”
Back in 2010 when Qatar was announced as a host, the choice was met with huge controversy after allegations the country had paid bribes in order to secure the right to host the tournament. Fast forward to 2022, and the build-up to the World Cup has been dogged by concerns about the suffering of low-paid migrant workers to build the infrastructure in the tiny gulf nation and discriminatory laws that criminalise same-sex relations.
Blatter has now claimed that even though he was a part of the executive committee that voted on the host country, he actually didn’t vote for Qatar. Instead he wanted what he called a “gesture of peace” by hosting back to back tournaments in Russia and then the USA.
“It is too small of a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for it,” Blatter said, speaking on Qatar.
“At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 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.”
When asked if he felt responsible for handing Qatar the World Cup, he added, “I can only repeat: the award to Qatar was a mistake, and I was responsible for that as president at the time,”
We’re two weeks away from the start of the Qatar World Cup, which had to be moved to November and December due to the heat.
Blatter was FIFA president from 1998 until 2015 before being banned from football for six years over a corruption scandal. He was cleared of the charges in July.