World Cup 2022: Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter says awarding the tournament to Qatar was a mistake.
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has criticized the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup as a “mistake.”
Blatter, 86, was president of FIFA at the time Qatar was awarded the tournament in 2010.
The Gulf state has come under fire for its position on same-sex relationships, human rights records, and treatment of migrant workers.
Blatter said he was “correct” when he said the tournament “should not go” to Qatar in 2022.
Blatter told the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger that Qatar is “too small a country” to host the tournament and that “football and the World Cup are too big for it.”
The Qatar World Cup, the first in the tournament’s 92-year history to be held in the Middle East and the first in the Northern Hemisphere winter, runs from November 20 to December 18.
Fifa’s executive committee voted 14-8 in favor of Qatar hosting the tournament over the United States 12 years ago, while Russia was awarded the 2018 event.
Blatter claims to have voted for the US and blames then-Uefa President Michel Platini for swaying the vote in Qatar’s favor.
“It was a poor decision, and I was responsible for it as president at the time,” he admitted.
“The World Cup was awarded to Qatar rather than the United States, thanks to Platini and his [UEFA] team’s four votes. That is the truth.”
Blatter also stated that in 2012, Fifa changed the criteria used to select host countries in response to concerns raised about the treatment of migrant workers building World Cup stadiums in Qatar.
“Since then, social concerns and human rights have been considered,” he added.
Blatter served as Fifa president for 17 years before being forced to resign in 2015 due to allegations that he illegally arranged a transfer of two million Swiss francs ($2.19 million; £1.6 million) to Platini, who was also forced to resign from his position at Fifa.
Fifa banned him from football for eight years, later reduced to six, due to the Platini payment. He was then banned again until 2028 in March 2021 for “various violations” of Fifa’s code of ethics.
Blatter and Platini were charged with fraud in November of last year but were found not guilty at a Swiss trial in July.