Fifa's press office is in familiar damage limitation mode, forced to issue yet another "clarification" of comments by president Sepp Blatter. Once again the problem was the controversial choice of Qatar as World Cup host in 2022, a decision, said Blatter in a television interview, that was "a mistake".
Asked on Swiss station RTS if it was an error to choose Qatar because of temperatures in the Gulf state that reach 50C in the shade, Blatter replied: "Yes, of course. You know, everyone makes mistakes in life. 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."
Fifa rushed out a statement claiming Blatter's comments were "in line with previous comments on this matter". It added: "The president reiterated that the decision to organise the World Cup in summer was an 'error' based on the technical assessment report of the bid, which had highlighted the extremely hot temperatures in summer in Qatar. At no stage did he question Qatar as the host of the 2022 Fifa World Cup."
Blatter repeated the suggestion that the finals would be moved, not in venue but in timing. "The best time to play is at the end of the year," he said. "You must remain realistic. We must play in winter."
Negotiations are continuing with the European leagues, who have most to lose from such a development. The Premier League would be worst affected as it does not have a winter break.
Blatter, known to have favoured the United States for 2022, denied that Qatar used its vast gas and oil wealth to buy the World Cup.Reuse content