Awarding 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a ‘blatant mistake,’ FIFA member says

July 24, 2013

FIFA President Sepp Blatter wants to reschedule the 2022 Qatar World Cup to the winter to avoid the desert nation’s extreme heat. (Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press)

A FIFA executive committee member says the decision to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup was a “blatant mistake.”

Former German soccer federation president Theo Zwanziger tells SportBild that a suggestion by FIFA President Sepp Blatter to play the tournament in winter would seriously affect the European leagues and threaten the “unity of German football.”. . .

The 68-year-old former tax inspector said that rather than rescheduling the tournament, it should be awarded to another country.

“If the decision at the time was really wrong you have to cancel it and avoid burdens on those previously uninvolved,” Zwanziger said.

Associated Press

FIFA President Sepp Blatter plans on asking the executive commitee to consider moving the World Cup to the winter to avoid the desert country’s extreme summer heat.

“If this World Cup is to become a party for the people, you can’t play football in the summer,” Blatter said Wednesday. “You can cool down the stadiums but you can’t cool down the whole country.”. . .

Blatter has repeatedly refused to say if he backed Qatar, which can have temperatures of 122 degrees during the summer.

The head of the local organizing committee, Hassan Al-Thawadi, said Qatar bid for a summer tournament. However, he but left open the option of a switch to another time of the year.

“It there is a wish from the football community to move the World Cup to the winter, we are open for it,” said Al-Thawadi.. . .

In May, Blatter said in an interview with a French newspaper it would be “not rational and reasonable” to stage the first World Cup in the Middle East in the summer.

Moving the tournament to the winter would have a major impact on the schedule of European soccer leagues, which would have to change things for at least one season.. . .

Air-conditioned stadiums to beat the heat were a defining theme of Qatar’s bid, but the cooling technology only resolves the problem in venues for players, fans and officials.

“We have to protect our partners, our commercial partners, our TV partners. We have to be tough on this,” said Blatter.

Associated Press

There was no shortage of controversy when FIFA awarded Qatar the 2022 World Cup in 2010. Aside from concerns about the weather, alcohol restrictions raised questions on the appropriateness of the selection.

Hassan al-Thawadi, general secretary of the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, said alcohol would be sold during the event and Qatar was “discussing with FIFA the extent of it and where.” He said the country was aiming to put on a World Cup where “everyone will be able to have a great time, have fun and be exposed to Qatari culture.”

Qatar, a nation with conservative Muslim traditions and significant population of foreign workers, limits the sale of alcohol mostly to five-star hotels. It doesn’t sell alcohol at soccer matches.

“Alcohol will be allowed in Qatar,” al-Thawadi said, although he didn’t “see the reason for it being in the stadium.”. . .

He noted that several nations don’t sell it at matches.

“I’m looking at it in terms of England and looking at in terms of everybody else. That is something we are discussing with FIFA ... Let’s discuss this with relevant stakeholders and come up with a plan that welcomes everyone.”

Associated Press

There were also allegations that Qatar had “bought” the right to host one of the world’s largest sporting events.

FIFA’s bribery scandal spread . . . beyond allegations about the presidential election to include the selection of Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host, with evidence that FIFA’s second in command suggested the desert nation had “bought” the right to host the world’s biggest single-sport event.

Qatar’s World Cup organizers swiftly denied the implication made in a private email from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Valcke said [on May 30, 2011] that by using the word “bought,” he meant Qatar was using the “financial strength” of an energy rich nation to lobby for backing, but he did not mean to claim any unethical behavior on its part. Still, Valcke’s message left the impression the World Cup was up for the highest bidder.

“I have at no time made, or was intending to make, any reference to any purchase of votes,” Valcke said in a statement about his email to FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who was provisionally suspended [on May 29, 2011.]. . .

Valcke confirmed Monday that he sent a private email hinting Qatar had “bought” the right to host the 2022 World Cup. The email was made public by Warner just after he was suspended.

“For MBH, I never understood why he was running,” Valcke told Warner in the email. “If really he thought he had a chance or just being an extreme way to express how much he does not like anymore JSB (Blatter). Or he thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the WC.”

Associated Press

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