Sepp Blatter, president of FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, generally throws mea culpas around like they were manhole covers. So it was stunning to hear him admit the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was an error.
“Of course it was a mistake,” Blatter said on Swiss television. “You know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life.”
Yeah, but if you’re Sepp Blatter you never admit any of them. And even in this case, Blatter was quick to blame others.
“The technical report indicated clearly that it was too hot in summer, but despite that the executive committee decided with quite a big majority that the tournament would be in Qatar,” Blatter said of the Middle Eastern emirate, where summer temperatures typically top 120 degrees.
A decision on whether the tournament will be moved from summer to the winter in eight years' time has been postponed by FIFA until after next month's World Cup in Brazil.
The voting process for the 2022 tournament began in 2009 with five candidates — Australia, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Qatar. In the final round of balloting, with 12 votes needed to win, Qatar got 14 votes to eight for the U.S.
Blatter denied charges of corruption in the voting process, saying Qatar had not "bought" the World Cup — although the emirate did spend large amounts on sponsorship and development programs associated with its bid.
"No, I have never said it was bought, but that it was due to political considerations,” Blatter said. “We know full well that big French and German companies work in Qatar, but they don't just work for the World Cup. The World Cup is only a small part of what is going on in Qatar."