'World Cup should not have gone to Qatar,' says Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA when tournament was awarded

8 November 2022, 18:35

Sepp Blatter has said Qatar should never have been given the World Cup
Sepp Blatter has said Qatar should never have been given the World Cup. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

FIFA should not have awarded the World Cup to Qatar, the world football organisation's former boss said.

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Sepp Blatter was president of FIFA in 2010, when the sport's global governing body gave the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

The Gulf state has come in for fierce criticism for its human rights record and for not recognising same-sex marriage or civil partnerships.

Read more: Homosexuality is 'damage in the mind' and gay visitors 'have to accept our rules', Qatar's World Cup ambassador says

Read more: England fans paid to 'spy' for Qatar at World Cup

The country's World Cup ambassador called homosexuality "damage in the mind" in an interview this week ahead of the tournament, which starts later in November.

The Qatar World Cup starts later in November
The Qatar World Cup starts later in November. Picture: Getty

Mr Blatter, 86, told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger: "The choice of Qatar was a mistake.

"At the time, we actually agreed in the (FIFA) Executive Committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 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."

Shelagh Fogarty caller says he wouldn't go to Qatar as a gay man

Blatter said he had voted for the United States and that former UEFA president Michel Platini had helped turn the vote in Qatar's favour.

"Thanks to the four votes of Platini and his (UEFA) team, the World Cup went to Qatar rather than the United States. It's the truth."

When asked why he was opposed to Qatar hosting the finals, Blatter said: "It's too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that."

Keir Starmer and his party wouldn't go to Qatar because of its 'human rights record'

Blatter said FIFA had responded to widespread accusations that Qatar had mistreated migrant workers, who helped build the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure, when he was still president.

Read more: Qatar hosting World Cup is a ‘mistake of biblical proportions’, says professor after criticism of Southgate’s comments

Read more: Gareth Southgate slammed for claiming Qatar workers "united" in wanting World Cup

"When discussions about the conditions on the construction sites in Qatar arose after the award, we in FIFA supplemented the rules in 2012," he said.

"Since then, social criteria and human rights have been taken into account in the award process. That was late, too late. But we did it."

Sepp Blatter earlier this year
Sepp Blatter earlier this year. Picture: Getty

Mr Blatter stepped down from his role as FIFA president in 2015 amid allegations he had sanctioned an illegal payment of £1.6million to the then UEFA president Platini.

FIFA initially banned Blatter for eight years, reduced to six, but in March 2021 he was handed a new ban for "various violations" of the governing body's code of ethics, suspending him from football until 2028.

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