Sepp Blatter admitted that the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar when he was president of FIFA was a “mistake”.
Leading up to this year’s World Cup has been marked by concerns over the plight of underpaid migrant workers to build infrastructure in the tiny Gulf nation and discriminatory laws that criminalize same-sex relationships.
Blatter, 86, was the head of FIFA in 2010 when his executive committee controversially voted to have the World Cup held in Russia and Qatar in 2018 and 2022 respectively. Blatter claims he didn’t vote for Qatar and instead wanted a “peace gesture” by hosting both tournaments in Russia and then the US.
“The choice of Qatar was a mistake,” Blatter said in an interview with the Swiss newspaper. Tages-Anzeigerhis first since being cleared of fraud charges in July following a £1.7m payout to former UEFA president Michel Platini.
“At the time, we agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the US the 2022 World Cup. It would have been a gesture of peace if the two longtime political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other. another. the other.
“It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”
The Qatar World Cup, which had to be postponed to November and December due to the heat, is now just two weeks away and Blatter accepts that he is responsible for the tournament that takes place there.
“I can only repeat: the award for Qatar was a mistake, and I was responsible for that as president at the time,” he said.
“Now that the World Cup is imminent, I am glad that, with few exceptions, no football player boycotts the World Cup.
“For me it’s clear: Qatar is a mistake. The choice was bad. What I ask myself: why the new FIFA president [Gianni Infantino] living in Qatar? He cannot be the head of the local World Cup organization. That’s not his job. There are two organizing committees for this – one local and one from FIFA.”
However, Blatter did not regret the decision to award the World Cup to Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Blatter said he was no longer in contact with Vladimir Putin and rejected allegations that Russia used the competition as a “propaganda platform”.
“Many others also use sport for political purposes. I’m not a judge and I don’t want to judge that,” he added.