IANS

Just a few days before the start of the 2022 football World Cup, former FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the decision to award the event to Qatar was a mistake. The FIFA World Cup will be played in various venues in Qatar from November 20 to December 18 with 32 teams in the fray.

Qatar is facing a lot of criticism over its stance on same-sex relationships, human rights records and the treatment of migrant workers. Qatar World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman has recently said that homosexuality is "damage in the mind".

The former Qatar international told German broadcaster ZDF that LGBTQ+ people attending the tournament should "accept our rules".

His utterances have raised concerns about how the country treats LGBTQ+ people as same-sex relationships and promotion of such relationships is a criminal offense and punishable with punishment ranging from fines to death sentence, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Human rights violations are another area of concern. Amnesty International claims that since 2010, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have faced human rights abuses while employed to build the wider infrastructure necessary to host the tournament.

Such concerns seem to have prompted Blatter, who was the FIFA President when the decision to award the 2022 FIFA World Cup to Qatar was taken in 2010, to claim that Qatar is "too small of a country" to host the tournament.

"Football and the World Cup are too big for it," he told the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger.

According to the report, FIFA's executive committee voted 14-8 for Qatar to host the tournament ahead of the United States 12 years ago. Blatter blames the then-UEFA president Michel Platini for swinging the vote in Qatar's favour.

"It was a bad choice and I was responsible for that as president at the time," he said. "Thanks to the four votes of Platini and his [UEFA] team, the World Cup went to Qatar rather than the United States. It's the truth."

Blatter also said FIFA had adjusted the criteria used to select host countries in 2012 after concerns were raised about the treatment of migrant workers building World Cup stadiums in Qatar.

"Since then, social considerations and human rights are taken into account," he added.

Blatter was forced to step down as president in 2015 overall allegations that he unlawfully arranged a transfer of two million Swiss francs ($2.19m) to Platini, who was also forced to resign from his position at FIFA.
 

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