FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted that it was a mistake to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup amid concerns over the country’s soaring summer temperatures.
Temperatures in the Gulf state can reach 50 degrees in the summer months and the tournament is likely to be moved to the winter to avoid matches taking place in such heat.
In an interview with Swiss TV channel RTS, Blatter was asked if it was an error to award Qatar the World Cup. He replied: “Of course, it was a mistake. You know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life.
Blatter added however that Qatar had not “bought” the World Cup and dismissed continuing allegations about how the Gulf state had secured the rights to host the tournament.
He said in the interview: “No, I have never said it was bought, but that it was due to political considerations.”
In a separate statement, FIFA sought to clarify Blatter’s comments, saying: “At no stage did he question Qatar as hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”
The statement added: “The comment by the FIFA President concerning the organisation of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar to Swiss TV station RTS is in line with previous comments on this matter.
“As explained in his answer to the journalist, the FIFA 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.”
FIFA’s secretary general Jerome Valcke has previously said the tournament will not be held from June to July, suggesting instead that it take place between November and January.
Football’s governing body added that Blatter and FIFA Executive Committee member Dr Theo Zwanziger has decided to postpone a scheduled trip to Qatar in mid-May until after the 2014 FIFA World Cup to “allow for time to gain a better understanding of the measures that were presented”.
Blatter added: “This announcement is a significant step in the right direction for sustainable change in the workers’ welfare standards in Qatar. We look forward to seeing the implementation of these concrete actions over the next months. We will continue our close cooperation with Qatari authorities as well as dialogue with all key stakeholders.”