Fifa are 'not losing control' despite claims Qatar could face re-vote for the 2022 World Cup?
Sepp Blatter hints at vote re-run, although Fifa move to clarify comments
Fifa have been forced to clarify that the World Cup will be staged in Qatar in 2022 as planned after its president was quoted suggesting the vote could be re-run.
The decision to stage the tournament in Qatar has been heavily criticised due to the heats that will affect the tournament if it is staged as planned in June and July.
Almost as soon as the decision to hand Qatar the tournament was made, it was mooted that the tournament could be moved to the winter - a change that would have huge repercussions for all of football.
Yet Blatter was quoted today by Spanish newspaper AS suggesting that making such a change would "affect the basic conditions of the World Cup" and could lead to the voting process to to be revisited if one of the other 2022 candidates objected.
However, Blatter has since denied making such suggestions and claimed Fifa are "not losing control" of the World Cup.
He told a news conference in Zurich: "We are not losing control on the World Cups 2014, 2018 or 2022.
"Considering the World Cup 2022 discussions have started at a time when the decision was taken and then people have realised that when playing in summer it will be very difficult because it is very hot.
"But the basic principles on the attribution of the World Cup and the list of requirements was very clear and has not been changed.
"FIFA's World Cup 2022 is a competition with 32 teams, 64 matches, and has to be played in June/July and this principle has never been put into question by the organisers. Therefore it still stands. The move must come from Qatar to the FIFA executive [to move it]."
Asked to clarify reports from an interview with the Spanish newspaper suggesting such a request could trigger a re-vote, Blatter added: "I am not a prophet but I have not used those words. I have only said it is Qatar that have to ask and I was then asked what would happen if they ask. The rest is interpretation. For the time being they haven't asked."
Football's world governing body disputed the content of the interview with AS and say Blatter was referring to a "hypothetical scenario" as the dates of the World Cup will be decided on by the tournament organising committee.
A Fifa statement read: "Fifa would like to remind as communicated previously that in fact the bidding agreement clearly stipulates that the final decision on the format and dates for both competitions (Fifa Confederations Cup 2021 and FIFA World Cup 2022) is vested with the Fifa Organising Committee which may hear recommendations from the LOC (local organising committee).
"Therefore, nothing has changed to what we have said previously.
"As it stands today, the 2022 Fifa World Cup is planned to be staged in Qatar in June/July 2022.
"Any potential change would have to be first requested by the competition organisers, ie. Qatar, and then presented to the Fifa Executive Committee for analysis."
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In the same AS interview, Blatter said Fifa's executive committee must accept the criticism which has come their way following the decision to award Qatar the World Cup.
"There are always question marks over Qatar because the Executive Committee chose the country democratically despite the existence of FIFA technical reports clearly, very clearly, warning of the difficulties of the tournament being played there, for two reasons: the climate and the size of the country," he said.
"Firstly, the temperatures are very high, and secondly the country is small for a World Cup host.
"So, the Executive Committee must accept the criticism it is now receiving for its decision."
Should the tournament be moved to the winter, it would mean European leagues being forced to alter the fixture lists, potentially over a few seasons to accomodate a two month break.
Blatter also took aim at UEFA president Michel Platini, who this week revealed how he had voted in the bidding process for 2018 and 2022.
The Swiss is reported to have said: "All I can say is that I don't understand why Platini made public declarations about how he voted in the selection process for World Cups 2018 and 2022.
"His vote, and that of all the members of the FIFA Executive Committee, is secret. I don't understand Platini and I told him so a few days ago in Morocco."
The English were vociferous in their disappointment at missing out to Russia in 2018 but Blatter had little sympathy, saying: "The UK parliament made accusations with no evidence. Nothing, not one piece of evidence.
"How can we hand out punishments without evidence?
"The English were very angry at not being chosen to host the World Cup in 2018. The English, the inventors of 'fair play'..."
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