BUENOS AIRES: FIFA President Sepp Blatter (pictured) rejected yesterday media reports claiming he thought it may have been a mistake to choose Qatar as hosts for the 2022 World Cup.
“No, it was not a mistake because by the rotation it was time to go to the Arabic world,” Blatter told Reuters on the sidelines of an International Olympic Committee meeting in the Argentinian capital.
“And now here we are in the Arab world. It is not a very big country, but it is a very important one. So the decision was absolutely in the context of the politics of FIFA and especially in the context of the politics of this president.”
Blatter said the decision to play the tournament in the middle of the year was the mistake, not the selection of Qatar as hosts.
“I am of the opinion, and this will be discussed by the (FIFA) Executive Board, now that to play in summer time in Qatar is not the right thing to do,” he said.
“We can play also in winter time and this is also a question of solidarity. If you never play in winter time the World Cup, you will be in the situation where all the countries around the equator and southern hemisphere... can never play in the winter.
“(Football) is a sport that is played not only in Europe but all around the world.”
Staging the tournament in the Middle East has sparked widespread consternation because, if it is held over its traditional dates in the middle of the year, players will have to contend with 50 degrees Celsius heat.
Calls to move the World Cup to later in the year, during the European winter, have also proved unpopular as it would disrupt domestic league competitions in countries such as Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France.
Also yesterday, European soccer clubs said they wanted to be involved in discussions over any possible switch of dates.
The European Clubs Association (ECA), which has more than 200 members, said it wanted to be consulted before any decision was made.
Another organisation, representing the European leagues, set out obstacles to the move as it also urged FIFA not to rush a decision. REUTERS