Sepp Blatter says awarding World Cup to Qatar was a mistake

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Awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar is a “bad option,” Sepp Blatter, who was president of soccer’s world governing body at the time of the 2010 decision, said Tuesday, claiming that an agreement between French and Qatari officials had swayed the vote.

“It’s too small a country,” Blatter, FIFA’s leader for 17 years before stepping down in 2015, told Swiss newspaper Tamedia in his first comments since he was acquitted of corruption charges by a Swiss court in July. Prosecutors appealed the verdict. “Football itself and the World Cup are too big for that.”

The smallest crowd by size since the 1954 tournament in Switzerland, Qatar will have 32 teams playing in eight stadiums in and around Doha, the site of the massive and controversial tournament, which begins on November 20. More than a million visitors are expected, but many will travel from neighboring countries due to limited places to stay in Qatar.

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“It was a bad choice, and I was responsible for that time as president,” Blatter said.

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At the request of the United States, which Blatter said he was considering, he was failing in the final round of voting among the five candidates. It is believed that Qatar beat the United States at a meeting in Paris by Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France, to vote by the FIFA executive committee in December 2010.

Present at the meeting were Michel Platini (a former French soccer great who was then president of UEFA, the European soccer body) and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now admirable.

Blatter on Tuesday, as Sarkozy has pressed Platini in the past, repeated his version of a phone call from Platini saying he had changed the voter’s decision.

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“Thanks for the four platinum votes and these” [UEFA] team, the World Cup to Qatar rather than the United States of America. It’s true,” Blatter said of the 14-8 vote.

“Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what a good thing it would be,” Platini told the Associated Press seven years ago, acknowledging that he “could tell” American officials that their 2022 vote would be two days away. Along with Blatter, Platini was also acquitted of corruption charges this summer.

With two days to go to win, Qatar has come under criticism for human rights issues and conditions related to the construction of the tournament site, something Blatter did not directly address other than to say that “social considerations and human rights are taken into account” with FIFA’s hosting regulations. nations was amended in 2012.

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Another issue as the tournament approaches concerns LGBT tourists in Qatar, where officials reportedly arbitrarily arrest and harass LGBT people. That question came back to the fore this week when Khalid Salman, a former Qatari national player who is an ambassador for the World Cup, called homosexuality “damage to the mind” in an interview with German public radio station ZDF. He added that gayness is “haram” – forbidden in Arabic – and that he has a problem with children seeing gay men.

“During the World Cup, many people will come here to the village. About the gays report, Salman said in English. “The most important thing is, everyone will come here, but they will have to accept our rules.

The interview was cut off by the World Cup organizing committee, ZDF reported.

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