Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter admits Qatar World Cup a ‘mistake’ just days ahead of tournament kickoff

The news has come to light 12 days ahead of the tournament kicking off

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted that handing the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a ‘mistake’, and that he intended the tournament to be given to the USA, who instead received the 2026 edition.

Blatter was the head of FIFA when the decision to take the World Cup to the Middle East was made in 2010, but has since been disgraced and was the subject to a corruption lawsuit alongside then-head of UEFA Michel Platini, both of whom have since been cleared.

But the run-up to the tournament in Qatar has been no less controversial, with human rights issues front and centre amid concern for the LGBT+ community and concern for the migrant workers that have helped build the infrastructure to host the tournament, all of which had to be built from scratch.

And Blatter, a year on from his court case, has admitted that it was a mistake to choose Qatar.

“The choice of Qatar was a mistake”, the 86-year-old told Tages-Anzeiger.

“It’s too small a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for that.”

With the tournament starting in just 12 days’ time, Blatter has accepted the responsibility for the error, as the decision to stage the event in Qatar came under his leadership.

“I can only repeat: the award to Qatar was a mistake, and I was responsible for that as president at the time”, he added.

Now that the World Cup is imminent, I’m glad that, with a few exceptions, no footballers are boycotting the World Cup”

“For me it is clear: Qatar is a mistake. The choice was bad. What I’m wondering: why is the new FIFA president [Gianni Infantino] living in Qatar? He can’t be the head of the local World Cup organisation. That’s not his job. There are two organising committees for this - a local one and one from FIFA.”

And Blatter went on to reveal that the initial plan had instead been to attempt to defuse political situations by handing the USA the tournament after it had been to cold-war opponents Russia four years earlier.

“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 long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.”

Instead, the USA and Mexico are hosting the 2026 edition of the tournament.

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Ben Browning

Ben Browning

Football writer and analyst. Long-time writer of all things Arsenal and avid watcher of European football. Happy to discuss all things football over on Twitter.

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