FIFA says reports claiming Sepp Blatter referred to the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar as a mistake have been taken out of context.
The governing body’s president spoke to reporters from Swiss television station RTS in Lausanne and was asked if FIFA had made an error by awarding the showpiece tournament to the Gulf state in light of the sweltering summer heat.
Blatter replied by saying: “Yes of course, you know everyone makes mistakes in life. The technical report into Qatar said clearly it was too hot but the executive committee – with a large majority – decided all the same to play it in Qatar.”
But FIFA has moved quickly to clarify Blatter’s comments, claiming the 78-year-old was merely stating it was impractical to organise a summer World Cup in Qatar due to the searing heat.
A FIFA statement read: “As explained in his answer to the journalist, the president reiterated that the decision to organise the World Cup in summer was an ‘error’ based on the technical assessment report of the bid, which had highlighted the extremely hot temperatures in summer in Qatar.
“At no stage did he question Qatar as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
The time of year that the tournament will take place has yet to be formally decided but Blatter added that there was a high probability that the tournament would take place during the winter.
Blatter also shot down suggestions that Qatar had “bought” the World Cup.
“No, I have never said it was bought, but that it was due to political considerations,” he said.
Qatar’s suitability as hosts has been scrutinised and debated since they controversially won the right to stage the tournament after beating off competition from the United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan.
Concerns have been raised about a number of issues including the lack of infrastructure in the tiny Gulf state, as well as rights for migrant workers.