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Sepp Blatter: It was a ‘mistake’ for Qatar to host the World Cup

The decision to give Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup finals was “a mistake,” according to former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The Gulf state has received harsh criticism for its record on human rights and for refusing to recognise same-sex unions and civil partnerships.

The tournament’s build-up, which will begin later this month, has also been hampered by claims that migrant workers in Qatar have received bad treatment.

When Qatar was controversially given the right to host the 2022 finals in 2010, Blatter presided over the organisation that governs international football.

The 86-year-old stated to the Tages-Anzeiger daily in Switzerland that choosing 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.”

Blatter said that he had cast his ballot in favour of the United States and that Michel Platini, the previous president of UEFA, had played a role in Qatar’s victory.

“The World Cup was awarded to Qatar rather than the United States thanks to Platini and his (UEFA’s) four votes. It is accurate.

Blatter responded that Qatar was “too small a country,” when asked why he disagreed with their hosting the championships. The World Cup and football are too huge for that.

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While he was still president, Blatter claimed FIFA had addressed numerous claims that Qatar had abused migrant workers who had contributed to the construction of the World Cup’s stadiums and infrastructure.

“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.”

A £1.6 million unlawful payment to the then-UEFA president Platini is said to have been sanctioned by Blatter, who resigned from his position as FIFA president in 2015.

FIFA first imposed an eight-year ban on Blatter, which was later reduced to six years. However, in March 2021, Blatter received a second suspension for “multiple infractions” of the organization’s code of ethics, which will keep him out of football until 2028.

FIFA has been contacted by the PA news agency for comment.