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Blatter denies 'mistake' comments on Qatar World Cup

ESPN staff
September 10, 2013
Sepp Blatter has denied he made comments that awarding Qatar the World Cup may have been a mistake © Getty Images

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has denied he made comments saying he thought it was a mistake to select Qatar as hosts of the 2022 World Cup.

On Monday, it was reported that Blatter had admitted FIFA may have made a "mistake" in the initial proposal to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar during the summer.

However, speaking at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Buenos Aires, Blatter said he thought playing the World Cup in the summer was the mistake, not awarding the tournament to Qatar.

"No, it was not a mistake because by the rotation it was time to go to the Arabic world," he said.

"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.

"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. 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."

Meanwhile, FIFA has been told by Europe's top leagues that it must not rush into a decision on moving the event.

The tournament is currently scheduled to be played in June and July when temperatures can reach 50°C in Qatar, but UEFA president Michel Platini has called for it to be switched to winter, a proposal Blatter has backed.

A meeting has been called for October 3-4 when a final decision is expected from world football's governing body, but the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) has released a statement urging a full investigation into the effects of such a move.

"The feasibility of any change to the calendar involves every aspect of football organisation across all countries, from the grass-roots to the major national representative tournaments and the leagues," the statement reads.

"Any suggestion of staging the World Cup at a time other than the traditional period is a crucial issue for the European Leagues considering the impact on the organisation of domestic championships throughout Europe, and of the international football calendar around the world.

"The EPFL is of the view that no hasty decision shall be made by the FIFA executive committee of October 3-4."

The statement adds that "such an important decision cannot be rushed with artificial deadlines" and says a full consultation with all football stakeholders should take place, and a proper medical assessment of a summer World Cup in Qatar would affect players and fans.

The EPFL also want FIFA to look at the consequences a move may have on the transfer system, any effects on commercial and media contracts and possible effects on the amateur game.

When it was suggested FIFA should have been aware that Qatar's climate would prevent a summer tournament taking place before they were voted as 2022 host in 2010, Blatter said: "That may well be so, and it may well be that we made a mistake at the time."

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