Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted that the football body committed an error in awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
The beleaguered former football administrator from Switzerland said categorically that it was a ‘Mistake’ to award the World Cup to Qatar.
His statements, who has sparked reactions among fans and pundits, come just less than two weeks before the highly anticipated football tournament kicks off in Qatar.
Sepp Blatter revealed that, on normal consideration, the Gulf Nation was too small to host a big tournament like the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
According to him, the United States was a clear favorite and in pole position among other bidders to host the tournament after another big and powerful nation in the globe, Russia, have taken their turn.
However, the ex-FIFA Chief accepted responsibility for the twist during the process as he was still in the helm of affairs at FIFA when the decision was taken.
Before his exit from his role as FIFA President, Sepp Blatter battled to clear his name from tawdry and shady deals in the corridors of FIFA during his tenure as the world football body’s Chief Executive.
Blatter was charged for financial corruption related offences while he was heading the body and was later arraigned in Swiss court with his European counterpart then Michel Platini.
Both were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Swiss court in July following a long-lasting allegations of mismanagement and corrupt practices in FIFA.
Meanwhile, when Qatar was finally awarded the right to host the world’s most followed sports, there were several controversies and criticisms.
Allegations emerged that the small but rich Gulf state had paid their way to be awarded the right to host the prized competition.
Some FIFA executives were accused of collecting bribes from Qatar to vote for them to host the competition.
Also, Qatar hosting the World Cup altered the global football calendar, with the tournament shifted from June to November due to concerns over hostile weather conditions.
Another objection to taking the tournament to Qatar was the glaring scenes of human rights abuses and discriminatory laws against LGBT+ communities in the country.
Some participating nations are planning to use the tournament as a rallying point to call for an end to discrimination and human rights abuses in the country.
All these added to the controversies and objections which followed the decision to award the tournament to Qatar.
Giving his first interview since being cleared by a Swiss court, Sepp Blatter – who was in charge at the top of FIFA from 1998 until 2015 before his six years ban, finally admitted that the decision was a mistake.
‘The choice of Qatar was a mistake,’ Blatter told Swiss outlet Tages-Anzeiger.
He added that the executive committee reached an agreement that the USA should be awarded the 2022 edition of the tournament after Russia took the 2014 edition.
According to him, the decision was reached to reconcile the two long-standing political and ideological adversaries through the tournament.
Sepp Blatter further maintained that the ‘decision (to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar) was bad’ because ‘it was too small a country to host such a big tournament.’
In the interview, he went ahead and questioned the decision of the current FIFA president to live in Qatar ahead of the World Cup.
‘What I’m wondering: why is the new Fifa president [Gianni Infantino] living in Qatar? He can’t be the head of the local World Cup organisation. That’s not his job. There are two organising committees for this – a local one and one from Fifa’, he stressed.
Meanwhile, Sepp Blatter’s comment that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a mistake is coming for the second time.
In 2014, he reportedly admitted same that the whole process was ridden with errors with FIFA’s technical committee stating clearly that Qatar’s weather will be too hot for the tournament.
Despite the warning, the FIFA executive committee still pressed ahead and awarded the tournament to Qatar.
Sepp Blatter’s comments may be coming late after the wrong has been done. As things stand, FIFA and some FAs are on head-on collision ahead of the tournament.
While FIFA is asking FAs to ‘focus on the football,’ some FAs are pushing and daring to use the tournament as a rallying point to voice their displeasure over Qatari’s treatment of migrant workers, discrimination against LGBT+ communities, and worsening human rights violations.