Awarding Qatar 2022 World Cup was a mistake — former FIFA president Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, has admitted the decision to award Qatar with the 2022 World Cup was a “mistake”. 

Blatter, 86, was FIFA president in 2010 when the 2018 and 2022 World Cup’s were controversially awarded to both Russia and Qatar

In an interview with Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiner, Blatter claims he wanted to award the United States the 2022 World Cup. 

He said: “The choice of Qatar was a mistake.

“At the time, we actually agreed in the executive committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA should get it in 2022. It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.

“It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”

When questioned on whether he felt responsible for the decision, he added: “For me it is clear. Qatar is a mistake. 

“The choice was bad. What I’m wondering is why is the new FIFA president 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.”

Blatter was cleared of fraud over a £1.6million payment to former UEFA president Michel Platini while he was FIFA president. He does, however, remain banned from football.

Platini had reportedly been asked to vote for Qatar to host the World Cup by then French president Nicolas Sarkozy. 

A France Football investigation alleged the president hosted a secret lunch at the Elysee Palace for the crown prince of Qatar, Sheikh Tamin bin Hamad al Thani and Platini.

At the lunch, the Qatari delegation supposedly offered to buy Paris Saint-Germain, the team Sarkozy supported, clear its debt, and create a spin off channel from Al Jazeera, which would later become known as beIn Sports. They also proposed to buy televised football rights for French football and use the channel to stream the matches. 

Blatter confirmed in 2015 to the Financial Times that the FIFA executive committee and Blatter had a “gentleman’s agreement” to award the bid to the US. 

“Just one week before the election, I got a phone call from Michel Platini and he said: ‘I am no longer in the picture because I have been told by the head of state that we should consider… the situation in France’,” he said.

Qatar has always rejected any suggestion they won the bid improperly.

And Platini responded forcefully saying: “To say that my choice… was part of a deal between the French state and Qatar is pure speculation… and lies,” he said. “I do not rule out legal action against anyone who casts doubt on the honesty of my vote.”

The World Cup in Qatar begins on November 20.

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(Photo: Getty Images)

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