Sepp Blatter stirs debate again on World Cup 2022 being held in Qatar’s summer

Fifa clarifies that the president did not say anything new and only questioning the timing of the event not the right of Qatar as hosts in 2022.
Fifa has stood by president Sepp Blatter’s statement. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
Fifa has stood by president Sepp Blatter’s statement. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, now believes it was a mistake to choose Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, adding that the competition must be held in the winter instead.

Blatter wasted little time when asked if choosing the Middle East country, with its high temperatures during the summer months, was a mistake.

“Yes, of course,” he told a Swiss radio station. “You know, everyone makes mistakes in life. The Qatar technical report ruled that it was too hot in the summer, but the [Fifa] executive committee, with a large majority, decided to play in Qatar.”

In these circumstances, “it is more than likely” that the 2022 World Cup will be played in the cooler winter months, said Blatter, who has repeatedly expressed his desire to move the tournament to a more suitable date.

“The best time to play is at the end of the year. You must remain realistic ... we must play in winter at the end of the year.”

Fifa issued a statement saying that his comments were consistent with previous remarks on the matter.

“As explained in his answer to the journalist, the president reiterated that the decision to organise the World Cup in summer was an ‘error’ based on the technical assessment report of the bid, which had highlighted the extremely hot temperatures in summer in Qatar,” the statement said.

“At no stage did he question Qatar as the host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.”

Blatter’s comments accord with the position taken by his deputy, Jerome Valcke, the Fifa secretary general, who said in January that the 2022 World Cup should be held ideally between November 15 and January 15.

A decision on whether the tournament will be moved to a winter slot has been postponed until after next month’s World Cup finals in Brazil.

Fifa took the controversial decision to award Qatar the World Cup in December 2010, and ever since, the decision has been dogged by controversy.

Blatter insisted that Qatar had not “bought” the World Cup – the bid group did spend large amounts of money on sponsorship and development programmes. “No, I have never said it was bought,” he said, but admitted to “political pressures” coming notably from France and Germany, both of whom, he said, had economic interests in the Gulf region.

“We know perfectly well that big French companies and big German companies have interests in Qatar. But they are not only involved in the World Cup,” he said.

Published: May 16, 2014 04:00 AM

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