FIFA president Sepp Blatter has again attempted to distance himself from the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
In an interview with German magazine Die Zeit, Blatter claimed European political leaders urged their football associations to vote for Qatar due to ‘economic interests’ in the Middle Eastern country.
Qatar’s role as 2022 World Cup hosts has been controversial since they won the bid in December 2010 with accusations of corruption, plus the ongoing saga over whether the tournament can be safely held in the northern hemisphere’s summer.
Blatter has conceded Qatar should hold the World Cup in the northern hemisphere’s winter with the potential for temperatures to reach 50 degrees in the small Gulf nation during June and July, while the 77-year-old Swiss football administrator has also admitted politics played a role in the 2010 voting process.
“Yes, there was definitely direct political influence,” Blatter said.
“European leaders recommended to its voting members to opt for Qatar, because of major economic interests in the country.”
Earlier this month, Blatter admitted FIFA made ‘a mistake’ in awarding the World Cup to Qatar as he began his push for the 2022 event to be held in the country’s winter.
Blatter’s new plan is not supported by the big European football leagues, as the World Cup would suddenly occur in the middle of their seasons, while Australia – who was one of the losing bidders for the 2022 tournament – believe they deserve compensation if the potential changes go ahead.
On Tuesday, Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy called on FIFA to compensate the failed bidders for the 2022 showpiece, as they had ‘invested many millions, and national prestige, in bidding for a summer event’.
While FIFA have maintained they are within their rights to reschedule the World Cup, Blatter has claimed football’s world governing body is investigating how Qatar won the vote.
“We have just set up a new, independent ethics commission to re-examine the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar,” Blatter said.
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