Sepp Blatter has admitted it was "a mistake" to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar because of the searing heat the players will be exposed to.
Speaking to Swiss channel RTS, the FIFA president said: “Of course, it was a mistake. You know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life.
“The technical report indicated clearly that it was too hot in summer, but despite that the executive committee decided with quite a big majority that the tournament would be in Qatar.”
Blatter insisted however that although Qatar had not “bought” the World Cup – there were a number of parties – mostly European, he claims – in whose economic interests it was for the tournament to be awarded to the gulf state
He added: “No, I have never said it was bought, but that it was due to political considerations. We know full well that big French and German companies work in Qatar but they don’t just work for the World Cup. The World Cup is only a small part of what is going on in Qatar.”
The can has been kicked down the road with regard to the timing of the Qatar World Cup, with a decision postponed by FIFA until after next month’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
Aware that the headline ‘Qatar World cup a mistake’ would not go down well with the 2022 hosts, FIFA swiftly issued a statement clarifying Blatter’s comments.
“The comment by the Fifa president concerning the organisation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar to Swiss TV station RTS is in line with previous comments on this matter,” it read.
“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. At no stage did he question Qatar as hosts of the 2022 Fifa World Cup.”
Which makes one wonder why FIFA voted for a summer World Cup in Qatar in the first place. What could have influenced the FIFA exco members who took that momentous decision?
Meanwhile, asked about his future as president of football’s governing body, Blatter again indicated he would stand for a fifth term in next year’s election.
“At the moment I say I want to finish my mandate well. Of course I am willing to continue,” he said.
Sadly, he will almost certainly be given that opportunity.