Sepp Blatter says awarding World Cup to Qatar was a mistake

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Awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a “bad choice,” Sepp Blatter, who was president of soccer’s governing body at the time of the 2010 decision, said Tuesday. that an agreement between French and Qatari officials established the elections.

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

The smallest host since the 1954 tournament held in Switzerland, Qatar will host 32 teams who will play 64 matches in eight stadiums and near Doha, the site of major and controversial construction projects for tournament, which starts Nov. 20. More than a million visitors are expected, but many will travel from neighboring countries due to limited accommodation in Qatar.

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

From October: The World Cup is just a month away. Will Qatar be ready?

The United States’ appeal, which Blatter said he voted for, failed in the final round of voting among five candidates. Qatar is believed to have defeated the United States at a meeting held in Paris by Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France, a week before the December 2010 election by the FIFA executive committee.

Present at the meeting were Michel Platini (former French football leader who was then president of UEFA, the European football body) and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, then the prince of Qatar, who is now the emir.

Blatter said Tuesday, as he has in the past, that Sarkozy pressured Platini, repeating his version of a call from Platini saying the voting strategy had changed.

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“Thanks to Platini and his four votes [UEFA] team, the World Cup went to Qatar instead of the United States. That’s true,” Blatter said of the 14-8 vote.

“Sarkozy never asked me to vote for Qatar, but I knew what would be good,” Platini told the Associated Press seven years ago, admitting he “should have told” American officials that he will vote for their bid in 2022. Along with Blatter, Platini was also acquitted of corruption charges during the summer.

Since winning the bid, Qatar has come under fire for human rights issues and working conditions at construction sites linked to the competition, something Blatter has not addressed directly other than we say “social considerations and human rights are taken into account” as FIFA values ​​for the host. countries were changed in 2012.

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Another issue in the run-up to the tournament is concern over LGBT tourists in Qatar, where authorities have reportedly mistreated and mistreated LGBT people. The issue came to the fore again this week when Khalid Salman, a former player of Qatar’s World Cup representative, called homosexuality “psychological damage” in an interview with German public broadcaster ZDF. . He added that being gay is “haram” – forbidden in Arabic – and that he has a problem with children seeing homosexuals.

“During the World Cup, many things will come here in the country. Let’s talk about gays,” Salman said in English. “The most important thing is, everyone will accept that they come here, but they will have to accept our rules.”

The interview was cut short by the press officer of the World Cup organizing committee, ZDF reported.

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