Blatter isolated as Qatar choice comes back to haunt Fifa

Emirate's refusal to consider winter switch for 2022 World Cup finals threatens to divide governing body

The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, was facing meltdown in his organisation last night after Qatar, the tiny emirate controversially chosen by football's world governing body to host the 2022 World Cup finals, rejected Fifa's proposals to switch the tournament to the winter.

In a move designed to cause the maximum embarrassment to Blatter, Mohammed Bin Hammam, the Qatari representative in Fifa's all-powerful executive committee (ExCo), also dismissed recent suggestions from his fellow ExCo member Michel Platini that the 2022 tournament should be spread around Gulf states.

Blatter had hoped to see off some of the public backlash to the decision last month to award Qatar the 2022 finals by switching the tournament to the cooler month of January – but in light of Bin Hammam's comments it would appear that Fifa has no option but to stage the tournament in temperatures of 50C-plus.

Having explored ways of extricating themselves from the embarrassment of staging a World Cup in desert heat, Blatter and the Uefa president Platini now look damaged and isolated on the world stage. In the febrile political atmosphere of Fifa, Blatter, its 74-year-old president who will stand for re-election for a fifth term in April, in particular looks vulnerable.

In a further attack on Blatter's fitness to lead Fifa, Bin Hammam, who will challenge for the Fifa presidency in April, admitted that the organisation was out-dated and lacking in transparency. This is exactly the kind of criticism that has been levelled at it from outside since the vote for the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals on 2 December.

Bin Hammam told Sky News: "I think we [Fifa] need to be more open to the people, more transparent. A lot of things could be done. Maybe the actual administration can do that, they have to commit themselves to doing that. The structure is not helpful or useful for our world."

Also very telling was Blatter's ignorance of Bin Hammam's position – which was made clear by the views expressed by the Fifa president in an interview with CNN's World Sport yesterday, his first major one in English since the 2022 decision. It was evident from Blatter's claim that the likelihood of staging the Qatar tournament in the winter "is definitely over 50 per cent" that he had no notion of Bin Hammam's stance.

The hard-line position of Bin Hammam means that the only way in which Fifa can now avoid the tournament being played in the sweltering temperatures of a Qatari summer would be to make a monumental U-turn and take the finals away. As Blatter himself admitted, the prerogative to change the dates of the tournament rests with the host nation – it cannot be imposed by the ExCo.

The suggestion from Uefa president Platini that the 2022 World Cup be played all around the Gulf states – further evidence that Fifa is simply making up the rules as it goes along – was rejected by Bin Hammam. The president of the Asian football confederation thinks that the ad hoc nature of Fifa's major alterations to the staging of a World Cup were not acceptable.

Bin Hammam said: "I believe Qatar can stand alone and organise the competition by itself and I'm really not very impressed by these opinions to distribute the game over the Gulf or change the time from July to January."

He added later: "We submitted a bid suggesting we are going to be ready in June, July. And we said we are going to face all the challenges and we are going to meet all the requirements. Our focus is June, July. It is never our interest to change one week beyond June, July.

"I know, from the bottom of my heart, there are a lot of stakeholders who should be consulted [and] their views brought to the table. It's not up to one, two or three members of Fifa to talk about changing the time without getting the real stakeholders' opinions."

He added: "We will not [change our minds]. We are not interested. We are very happy and we are promising the world that we are going to organise an amazing World Cup in June and July. And even here in Qatar that is going to be a perfect welcome."

Breaking the usual code of silence among the ExCo members, who currently number 22, Bin Hammam discussed the perception of corruption within the organisation, admitting that "people are seeing us [sic] that way". He hinted at an independent regulator – "there must be [something] that people can really measure us on" so that "people see us from [the] inside".

Meanwhile, in the interview Blatter gave to Pedro Pinto of CNN, the Fifa president was blissfully unaware of Bin Hammam's frame of mind. Blatter, so rarely outmanoeuvred, claimed that "the final decision has not yet been taken" on whether 2022 would be switched to the winter. He said: "It would be unfair to the players to play in summer when there is a possibility to play in winter."

It also emerged yesterday that the two ExCo members suspended over corruption charges relating to The Sunday Times investigation – Reynald Temarii (Tahiti) and Amos Adamu (Nigeria) – are appealing against their sentences.

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
newsBloomsbury unveils new covers for JK Rowling's wizarding series
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star