World football supremo Joseph Blatter has reiterated that awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar may have been a mistake but insists that Europe can not have its way all the time as far as scheduling of the showcase event is concerned.
Blatter said in an interview with insideworldfootball.com that the showcase tournament has long outgrown the old continent and must cater for fans from around the world in every aspect.
FIFA’s decision to award the tournament to Qatar was controversial because of the intense summer heat during the proposed and traditional June/July slot.
“It may well be that we made a mistake at the time,” said Blatter.
Local organisers pledged air-conditioned stadiums but there are calls to hold the tournament in winter, possibly November/December 2022 — for which domestic leagues would have to re-arrange their schedule, which is met with opposition especially from England’s Premier League.
However, Blatter said that FIFA rules only “in-principle” set the World Cup for June/July, and he insisted that the sport’s biggest event can not revolve around the European summer all the time.
“If we maintain, rigidly, the status quo, then a FIFA World Cup can never be played in countries that are south of the equator or indeed near the equator. We automatically discriminate against countries that have different seasons than we do in Europe,” Blatter said.
“Who are we, the Europeans, to demand that this event has to cater to the needs of 800 million Europeans above all, when there are over 7 billion people who populate this planet and of who 6.2 billion are not European, but who must at all times succumb to our diktat? “I think it is high time that Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world anymore ... and we must accept that football has moved away from being a European and South American sport: it has become the world sport that billions of fans are excitedly following every week, everywhere in the world.”