According to former FIFA President Sepp Blatter, choosing Qatar as the host nation for the World Cup this year was a “mistake” and a “bad choice”. This he said in his first major interview since appearing at a federal criminal court for an alleged corruption trial.
Blatter says that the tournament was handed to the Gulf state because of the actions of the former Uefa president Michel Platini, under pressure from France’s then president, Nicolas Sarkozy.
“For me, it is clear: Qatar is a mistake. The choice was bad,” Blatter told the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.
“At the time, we actually agreed in the 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 longstanding political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.”
The former Swiss football administrator who served as the eighth President of FIFA from 1998 to 2015 has repeated claims that the decision was a result of a secret political pressure.
Blatter said that Fifa’s plans were disrupted by Platini, claiming Platini was instrumental in directing four votes from European countries to Qatar, after pressure from Sarkozy.
For his reasons why he thought Qatar was a wrong choice as host nation, he responded saying, “It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”
“I can only repeat: the award to Qatar was a mistake, and I was responsible for that as president at the time,” he said.