Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter said the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a “mistake”.
Blatter, 86, was president of world football’s governing body when Qatar won the World Cup in 2010.
The Gulf state has been criticized for its stance on same-sex relationships, its human rights record and the treatment of migrant workers.
Khalid Salman, Qatar’s World Cup ambassador, has said homosexuality is “a wound to the heart”.
The ex-Qatar international told German broadcaster ZDF that LGBTQ+ people participating in the game should “accept our rules”.
There are concerns over how LGBTQ+ people are treated in Qatar, where same-sex relationships and the promotion of same-sex relationships are criminalized, with penalties ranging from fines to the death penalty.
Speaking on the upcoming BBC Radio 5 Live podcast series Power Play – The House of Sepp Blatter about the decision to award the World Cup to Qatar: “I was right at some point to say ‘this shouldn’t go there’. “
In an interview with a Swiss newspaper Tiger Anziger, He added that Qatar was “too small as a country” to host the World Cup and that “football and the World Cup are too big for it”.
The Qatar World Cup will be held from November 20 to December 18, the first time in the tournament’s 92-year history to be held in the Middle East and for the first time in winter in the northern hemisphere.
Twelve years ago, FIFA’s executive committee voted 14-8 to decide that Qatar would host the World Cup ahead of the United States, while Russia won the 2018 tournament.
Blatter said he voted for the United States and accused then-UEFA president Michel Platini of letting the vote for Qatar.
“It was a bad choice, and I was responsible for it as president at the time,” he said.
“Thanks to Platini and his four votes [Uefa] Team, the World Cup went to Qatar instead of America. This is a fact. “
Blatter also said FIFA adjusted the criteria used to select the host country in 2012 after concerns were raised about the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar building World Cup stadiums.
“Since then, social considerations and human rights have been taken into account,” he added.
Blatter was FIFA president for 17 years but was forced to resign in 2015 after allegedly arranging an illegal arrangement to transfer 2 million Swiss francs ($2.19 million; £1.6 million) to Platini. Forced to resign from FIFA.
He was initially banned from football by FIFA for eight years, which was later reduced to six years, due to Platini’s payment. March 2021 He then received an additional ban until 2028 For “various violations” of FIFA’s code of ethics.
Blatter and Platini were charged with fraud in November acquitted In a trial in Switzerland in July.
The decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively, has been plagued by widespread allegations of corruption, with Swiss prosecutors and the U.S. Justice Department launching two investigations in 2015.
Qatar and Russia have consistently denied any wrongdoing, and both were effectively cleared in 2017 in FIFA’s own investigation.
FIFA recent letter to competing countries Ask them to “focus on football now” rather than the contentious buildup of competition.
The FIFA letter was criticised by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and LGBTQ+ activists in England and Wales, while 10 European football associations – including those in England and Wales – said “human rights are universal and apply anywhere”.
Amnesty International said that since 2010, Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers They face human rights abuses when they are hired to build the wider infrastructure needed to host the competition.
Some players plan a peaceful protest, while England’s Harry Kane and nine other European captains will be wearing “One Love” Armband. Promote diversity and inclusion.
Denmark will wear “Low-key” shirt In protest against Qatar, shirt supplier Hummel said it “doesn’t want to be seen at a match”, claiming it “has claimed thousands of lives”, while Australia’s team posted a video Urge Qatar to repeal its laws on same-sex relationships.
World Cup ambassador says homosexuality is ‘heart hurt’
Salman spoke to ZDF in a documentary that aired on Tuesday.
“They have to accept our rules here,” he said. “[Homosexuality] is a holy place.you know what a holy place is [forbidden] method? “
When asked why it was a holy place, Salman said: “I am not a strict Muslim, but why is it a holy place? Because it is a wound to the heart.”
An accompanying official immediately stopped the interview.
The host country’s World Cup organisers said “all are welcome” to visit the country to watch football matches, claiming that no one will be discriminated against.
However, Qatar 2022 chief executive Nasser al Khater said the government would not change its laws on homosexuality and asked tourists to “respect our culture”.
Human rights are being “ignored and disrespected”, said Robbie de Santos, communications and external affairs director at LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall.
He added in an interview with BBC World Service’s Sports Today: “It is surprising and disappointing that the Qatari authorities have assured the UN and other multilateral bodies of respect for human rights and commitment to social progress during the games, while we have seen What comes is that those promises have not been fulfilled.
“That’s why it’s so important that we all listen and follow the game globally and know that football is really everyone’s game and we’re all talking.”
BBC Sport has contacted FIFA and the World Cup Organizing Committee for comment.
Power Play – The House of Sepp Blatter will air on BBC Sounds on 15th November.