The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is less than two weeks away, with the first match on November 20th. But former FIFA President Sepp Blatter now says it should be in an entirely different country.
According to Reuters, Blatter told a Swiss newspaper recently that “Qatar is a mistake.”
He also said that “the choice was bad,” and took responsibility as FIFA president.
With an event this important and sprawling, Blatter’s concerns centered on Qatar’s size.
“It is too small of a country. Football and the World Cup are too big for it,” he said.
Blatter revealed during the interview that a different site was initially chosen for 2022.
“At the time, we actually agreed in the (FIFA) Executive Committee that Russia should get the 2018 World Cup and the USA that of 2022.”
He continued, “It would have been a gesture of peace if the two long-standing political opponents had hosted the World Cup one after the other.”
Blatter’s lengthy history of corruption has been well documented. Potential bribery concerns weren’t brought up during the interview, however.
The United States, along with Mexico and Canada, did receive 2026 hosting rights from FIFA. But expectations for this year’s U.S. Men’s National Team would be very different if the event was being held locally, even with the team’s extremely poor performance in recent matches.
World Cup Criticisms Likely Self Preservation
By choosing to speak out now, Blatter’s clearly trying to protect his own legacy.
He’s been banned from FIFA through 2028 due to an extensive history of corruption. He’s also faced accusations of defrauding the organization, although he was recently acquitted of those charges.
Blatter’s reign at the top of FIFA repeatedly lived down to the lowest possible expectations of soccer officials.
Faith in FIFA as a governing body collapsed further during his tenure, and the 2022 World Cup is one of many reasons why.
Blatter seemingly didn’t explain why the Executive Committee’s plan was altered, but it doesn’t take a vivd imagination to make assumptions.
The 2022 event should still be an extremely fun on-field competition. With a wide open field and any number of contending teams, it’ll undoubtedly be a fascinating tournament.
But the biggest question for US fans will be how their extremely young team performs on the biggest stage. A stage that apparently should have been at home.