Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA when Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup hosting rights in 2010, told Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger, “Qatar is a mistake,” adding that “the choice was bad.”
The Qatar decision has been marred by controversy, including allegations of corruption and human rights abuses, since it was first announced.
Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years, has also been embroiled in corruption allegations during his tenure. He was acquitted of fraud by a Swiss court in June. The prosecution has appealed the sentence.
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“It’s too small a country. Soccer and the World Cup are too big for that,” Blatter said of Qatar, the first Middle Eastern country to host the tournament.
He said that in 2012 FIFA changed the criteria it used to select host countries in light of concerns over working conditions at tournament-related construction sites in Qatar.
“Since then, social considerations and human rights have been taken into account,” he said.
Blatter said he will watch the tournament, which starts in less than two weeks, from his home in Zurich.