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FIFA President Sepp Blatter: 'Qatar 2022 a mistake'

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In an interview with Swiss television channel RTS, today in Lausanne, FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, acknowledged that awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a mistake.

Qatar's suitability as hosts has been hotly debated ever since they won the right to stage the tournament by beating competing bids from the United States, South Korea, Australia, and Japan. Allegations of corruption and fraud surrounding the bidding process have been plentiful and the British press in particular has run many a story on the topic.

Issues of player and spectator health and safety aside, concerns had been raised over the country's infrastructure, as well as rights for migrant workers in the face of many deaths at construction sites, and also about the nation's lack of a true, long-term soccer culture.

"Of course, it was a mistake. You know, one makes a lot of mistakes in life. The technical report indicated clearly that it was too hot in summer, but despite that the executive committee decided with quite a big majority that the tournament would be in Qatar," Blatter said to RTS.

Blatter was at pains to clarify that Qatar had not "bought" the World Cup. "No," he said, "I have never said it was bought, but that it [awarding the cup] was due to political considerations."

A decision as to whether the tournament will be either reassigned, or kept in Qatar but moved from summer to the winter, has been postponed by FIFA until after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Subsequent to Blatter's comments, FIFA headquarters released a statement that was billed as an attempt to clarify Blatter's comments.

"The comment by the FIFA president concerning the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar to Swiss TV station RTS is in line with previous comments on this matter," the press release said.

"As explained in his answer to the journalist, the president reiterated that the decision to organize the World Cup in summer was an 'error' based on the technical assessment report of the bid, which had highlighted the extremely hot summer temperatures in Qatar. At no stage did he question Qatar as hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup."

During the televised interview Blatter was also asked about his future as president of FIFA. He said, contrary to comments last year but in line with several made over the course of this year, that he would run for a fifth term in next year's election. "At the moment I say I want to finish my mandate well. But, of course I am willing to continue."

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