Ex-FIFA president Sepp Blatter regrets 2022 Qatar World Cup pick: ‘It was a bad choice, and I was responsible’

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Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has called the 2010 decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup a “mistake” just weeks before the tournament gets underway. Blatter, now 86 and disgraced after his exit from world soccer’s governing body amid corruption allegations along with former UEFA chief Michel Platini, now says he regrets the decision.

Qatar is about to host the international game’s most prestigious competition later this month and will be the first Middle Eastern host nation in World Cup history. Blatter told Swiss publication Tages Anzeiger that Qatar is “too small of a country” to be successful hosts because “soccer and the World Cup are too big for it.”

“It was a bad choice, and I was responsible for that as president at the time,” said Blatter. “Thanks to the four votes of Platini and his (UEFA) team, the World Cup went to Qatar rather than the United States. It is the truth.”

FIFA’s executive committee ultimately voted 14-8 for Qatar to host the World Cup ahead of the U.S. while Russia was also awarded the 2018 hosting rights. Qatar is not only the Middle East’s first World Cup, but it is also the first which will take place during winter in the Norther Hemisphere.

Blatter also mentioned that Qatar’s successful bid required FIFA to adjust its selection criteria so that “social considerations and human rights are taken into account.” Concerns were quickly raised regarding the treatment of migrant workers building World Cup stadiums and the Gulf State has also been criticized for its dim view of same-sex relationships, as well as a poor human rights record.

Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman recently branded homosexuality “damage in the mind” and told German broadcaster ZDF that LGBTQ+ people attending should “accept our rules” which make same-sex relationships and even promotion of them punishable.

Blatter was FIFA chief for 17 years before being forced to step down in 2015 with Platini also forced to leave his role over allegations of an unlawful $2.19 million transfer. He was banned from soccer for eight years by FIFA which was later reduced to six before an additional ban until 2028 for FIFA ethics code violations.

Blatter and Platini were also charged with fraud last November but were found not guilty at a trial in Switzerland in July. Despite various investigations into allegations of corruption, Qatar and Russia have denied all wrongdoing and FIFA’s own investigation cleared them in 2017.

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