Sepp Blatter has admitted that the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup was a ‘mistake’. Blatter was the president of FIFA when Qatar was awarded the tournament 12 years ago in 2010.
A number of prominent people have spoken out about the location of the upcoming World Cup. England star Beth Mead, who is openly gay, said it was ‘disappointing’ that it was being held in Qatar.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Mead said: “It’s not something I will be backing or promoting. It’s disappointing in the sense that there’s no respect on a lot of levels, even though it’s a game of football.”
The comments from Blatter come just under two weeks before the tournament is scheduled to start. The decision to host the tournament in the winter has come under much scrutiny, as it will cause havoc to Europe’s football schedule.
As well as that, Qatar has been criticised for its stance on multiple issues including same-sex relationships, human rights record and its treatment of migrant workers. They are scheduled to play Ecuador on Sunday, November 20 at 4pm UK time.
Speaking to Swiss paper Tages Anzeiger, Blatter said “It is too small of a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for it.” It’s the first time a country situated in the Middle East will host a World Cup, with the global tournament first occurring in 1930.
Blatter continued to explain that the criteria that prospective host countries must have was altered in 2012. This came due to concerns about the treatment of migrant workers building World Cup stadiums in Qatar.
He went on to say the upcoming World Cup should’ve been held in the USA, saying “At the time, we actually agreed in the 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.”
Blatter was the head of football’s governing body for 17 years, until he was forced to step down in 2015. He, along with Michel Platini was charged with fraud in November 2021, but was found not guilty at a trial in Switzerland in July 2022.