Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has claimed he made a mistake choosing Qatar to host the World Cup.
Blatter claims Qatar won the right to host the 2022 World Cup 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 via The Guardian.
“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.”
Asked why Qatar was a bad choice, Blatter responded: “It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”
“Thanks to the four votes of Platini and his [Uefa] team, the World Cup went to Qatar rather than the United States. It’s the truth,” Blatter said of the 14-8 voting result against the US in the final two.
“Platini told me he had been invited to the Élysée Palace, where French president Sarkozy had just had lunch with the Crown Prince of Qatar,” Blatter said. “Sarkozy said to Platini: ‘See what you and your colleagues from Uefa can do for Qatar when the World Cup is awarded.’ I then asked him: ‘And now?’”
According to Blatter, when he queried this, Platini’s response was: “‘Sepp, what would you do if your president asked you for something?’ I then told him that the question didn’t arise for me because we don’t have a president in Switzerland.”