President insists that European league chiefs must accept World Cup winter switch
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has admitted that a mistake may have been made when the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar in 2010.
In an interview published on Monday, Blatter defended his decision that the tournament should be played in the winter when it is held in the Gulf state.
Asked whether FIFA already knew that a summer World Cup would be impossible when it awarded the tournament on December 10 2010, Blatter said: "That may well be so, and it may well be that we made a mistake at the time. On the other hand, you must also consider political and geo-political realities."
He added that while the switch would inconvenience the major European leagues, it was "high time that Europe starts to understand that we do not rule the world anymore, and that some former European imperial powers can no longer impress their will on to others in far away places".
He said in comments published by insideworldfootball.com: "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."
"The loudest critics, the ones who should know better because they signed the exact same bidding documents as Qatar did... must know that point 1.2.1 stipulates that the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup is 'scheduled to take place' in June and/or July 'in principle'," he was quoted as saying.
"It does not say that it 'must' take place in these months, nor is it a 'condition sine qua non' to host the World Cup in June and July. What the document does is express FIFA's wish to host the World Cup in June or July," he added.
Temperatures in Qatar can reach 50 degrees Celsius but cool to the mid-20s in December.
Blatter accepted that, despite knowing that technology was available to cool venues, playing in Qatar's summer was "simply not a responsible thing to do".