FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted a “mistake” may have been made in the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
Qatar beat the likes of the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia to win the hosting rights in December 2010.
But ever since the Middle East country was given the event, doubts have raged over its viability to stage it in the traditional months of June and July.
These concerns are based on the oppressive weather in Qatar at that time of year, with average temperatures of above 40°C sure to make life difficult for players and fans.
A cornerstone of Qatar’s successful bid was that all stadiums would be air-conditioned, but despite that, the tournament is almost certain to be moved to a different time of year.
When quizzed if FIFA’s executive committee were aware that staging the tournament in June and July, as originally planned, would have been impossible, Blatter told www.insideworldfootball.com: “That may well be so and it may well be that we made a mistake at the time.”
Blatter also revealed he would recommend a shift of timing for the tournament to FIFA’s executive committee, and hinted that it would be a formality that his suggestion would be taken on board.
“After many discussions, deliberations and critical review of the entire matter, I came to the conclusion that playing the World Cup in the heat of Qatar’s summer was simply not a responsible thing to do – despite the fact that I know full well that Qatar has the means to develop the best cooling technology,” he said.
“That is why I went public and suggested that the FIFA executive committee should review the period when the event shall be staged and see what consequences it would have to play in winter.
“First, we need to see whether the owner of the FIFA World Cup – FIFA – actually agrees with my recommendation, one that I shall table at the October 3/4 ExCo (executive committee) meeting, and whether it follows my advice to change the dates from summer to winter.
“Once the executive committee of FIFA has agreed to that, we can take the next steps which will include a close look at the international calendar and establish what consequences the change would have.
“And we would naturally need to speak to and consult with all interested parties and stakeholders.”
Blatter is aware of the task ahead for football’s decision makers if the World Cup was to be switched to a more suitable time of November or December, while he also referred to the vocal protests from countries who lost out to Qatar in the bidding process.
“The loudest critics (are) the ones who should know better,” he said.
“Because they signed the exact same bidding documents (the bid registration agreement) as Qatar did, must know that point 1.2.1. stipulates that the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup is ‘scheduled to take place’ in June and/or July of 2022 ‘in principle’.
“It does not say that it ‘must’ take place in those months. What the document does, is express FIFA’s wish to host the World Cup in June or July.”
More news on the staging of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is expected after the upcoming two-day FIFA executive committee meeting ends on October 4.
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