FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, has admitted that the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup was a “mistake”.
This was contained in a weekly publication, “Insidethegames”, given to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Saturday.
The decision by football’s world governing body to award the hosting rights of its flagship event to the Arab state has been hit with a barrage of criticisms since the vote was held in December 2010.
Complaints over the weather, which can reach searing heats of 50 degrees Celsius – the treatment of migrant workers and the possibility of moving the tournament to the winter, have all been debated since the controversial decision in Zurich.
Asked by Swiss channel RTS whether the original decision was in fact a mistake, with regard to the blistering summer heats, Blatter admitted: “Of course, it was a mistake.
“You know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life.
“The technical report into Qatar said clearly it was too hot but the (FIFA) Executive Committee – with a large majority – decided all the same to play it in Qatar.”
Qatar has faced huge amounts of criticism over its treatment of migrant workers helping with the construction of infrastructure ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
The time of year in which the tournament will take place has yet to be decided, with a decision set to be made after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Although a decision has not been formally made, in January, FIFA Secretary-General, Jérôme Valcke, ruled out a summer tournament, saying he believed the competition would likely be played between November 15 and January 15 the latest.
These views were quickly shot down by FIFA as an expression of “his view”.
Blatter has also shot down allegations that the 2022 World Cup was “bought” by Qatar.
“No, I have never said it was bought, but that it was due to political considerations,” he said.
Following the President’s comments, FIFA released a statement on its Website, saying that “the comment by the FIFA President concerning the organisation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar to Swiss TV station RTS is in line with previous comments on this matter.
“As explained in his answer to the journalist, the FIFA 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.”