Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA president, says the decision to award Qatar with the 2022 World Cup was a “mistake”.
In an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, the 86-year-old, who was FIFA president when Qatar was awarded the 2020 World Cup hosting rights in 2010, said he had voted for the United States to host this year’s tournament.
“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,” he said.
“It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the
Asked why Qatar was a “bad choice”, Blatter said: “It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”
Blatter also blamed Michel Platini, the former UEFA president, for allowing the tournament to be handed to the Gulf state.
He alleged that Platini was instrumental in directing four votes from European countries to Qatar, following pressure from Nicolas Sarkozy, the then president of France.
“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,” Blatter said.
“Platini told me he had been invited to the Élysée Palace, where French president Sarkozy had just had lunch with the Crown Prince of Qatar.
“Sarkozy said to Platini: ‘See what you and your colleagues from Uefa can do for Qatar when the World Cup is awarded.’ I then asked him: ‘And how?’”
Blatter alleged that when he queried Platini, the ex-UEFA president asked him: “‘Sepp, what would you do if your president asked you for something?’
“I then told him that the question didn’t arise for me because we don’t have a president in Switzerland.”
The World Cup in Qatar begins on November 20.
There have been concerns in some quarters about Qatar hosting this year’s World Cup.
Accusations of human rights abuse continue to trail the rich gulf nation amid discriminatory laws that criminalise same-sex relations.