FIFA President Sepp Blatter has raised eyebrows in the football community once again over another set of off-the-cuff remarks made in a recent media interview.
When asked today by Swiss channel RTS about Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup during its searing summer months, the official said “it was a mistake” to award the tournament during this time period. He explained:
“Of course, it was a mistake… But you know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life. The technical report for Qatar stated that summer temperatures were too high. However, the executive committee of FIFA decided to award the World Cup to Qatar with a broad majority despite this.”
However, he denied allegations that Qatar had “bought” the tournament, saying that “it was more about political forces.”
The remarks prompted some consternation in Qatar, with residents on Twitter saying:
The Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy declined to comment.
But in a statement, FIFA clarified that Blatter’s latest remarks did not mean the president was calling for Qatar to lose hosting rights to the tournament. It said:
“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 the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
So far, the only person to formally declare their intentions to run for the post has been Jerome Champagne, a French ex-diplomat and former secretary general of FIFA. Champagne has recently come out against Qatar’s bid to host the World Cup.
The official has backpedaled about his position on Qatar’s World Cup before, but most recently appears to favor the idea of a winter tournament, due to the heat concerns here during summer.
A decision on whether the games would be moved, however, is not expected to be announced until after the upcoming World Cup in Brazil.