ZURICH (AP) — It is "a mistake" to hold the World Cup in the searing summer heat of Qatar, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said.
"Yes. Well, a mistake. A mistake. You know one makes many mistakes in life. The technical report on Qatar clearly indicated that it was too hot in summer," Blatter told Swiss TV station RTS on Thursday. "But the (FIFA) executive committee decided with quite a large majority that we are going to play in Qatar."
Blatter also said it was "more than likely" that the 2022 tournament will be moved to winter to avoid the extreme heat of June and July in the Gulf nation. On Friday, FIFA issued a statement insisting that Blatter was not questioning the choice of Qatar itself.
"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 temperatures in summer in Qatar. At no stage did he question Qatar as the host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup," FIFA said.
In the interview, Blatter denied a suggestion that Qatar used its vast gas and oil wealth to buy the World Cup. He said political pressure from France and Germany had a role in FIFA's choice of Qatar, noting that major companies from both European nations work in the Gulf state.
"I will never say that they bought it, because it was political pushing. Really, both in France and Germany," Blatter said. France's Foreign Ministry denied that assertion, calling it "without foundation."
Blatter also said he aims to stay on as FIFA president. "Of course, I want to. Not just want to, I intend to continue," he said. Blatter, who has led FIFA since 1998, will be 79 when the election is held next May.