By Andy Sambidge
FIFA president speaks out after recent criticism from German and Australian FA officials
FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on Saturday that Qatar will definitely host the World Cup in 2022, adding that the case was now closed.
Having launched new anti-corruption measures in October, Blatter again defended the choice of surprise winners Qatar for the 2022 World Cup against outside criticism.
"The 2022 World Cup will be in Qatar and I don't know who can change this decision," said Blatter, responding to remarks made by new Australia soccer boss Frank Lowy.
"I personally will intervene if FIFA executive members continue with such declarations (accusations). I understand about the incident in Australia but the case is closed now," he added in comments published by Reuters.
He added: "The World Cup shall be accessible to all cultures and it was time ... to bring it to the Arab world."
Lowy was quoted last month as saying the tiny Gulf state, whose bid was dogged by corruption allegations, could still be stripped of the 2022 finals.
Earlier this month, German football federation (DFB) president Theo Zwanziger also reiterated his criticism of the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, saying normal hosting criteria had been "perverted".
"I have never understood, how such a small country is allowed to stage the most important sports event in the world, especially as Qatar was last in the rankings before the decision," Zwanziger told reporters.
"The criteria for host nations have been perverted," added the German, who has been a vocal critic of the decision. "I have my doubt as to whether sporting aspects were fully taken into account."
Qatar's bid leaders strongly denied any wrong-doing but emotions still run high as the beleaguered FIFA president did his best fire-fighting job.
Blatter also said that he had "regrets" following a scandal-tainted year, saying that announcing the choices for the 2018 and 2022 at the same time may have been a mistake.
"This is a justified question after a year of ups and downs," Blatter told reporters after a FIFA executive committee meeting in Tokyo on the sidelines of the Club World Cup.
"It was not the best and most intelligent decision of FIFA to announce the two World Cup simultaneously," said the 75-year-old on the eve of Barcelona's final with Santos in Yokohama.
"It was wrong and it caused a lot of disturbances earlier this year," he added of the controversy and subsequent blaze of corruption revelations triggered by the choices.
"The past is past and we have to look forward. The boat is still not in still waters but we are bringing it back to port.
"Regrets, yes. But you can't live in regret. You can have regrets but you can't go back and change the past.
"You must have have a positive approach and I have the energy to go forward and bring back the credibility of FIFA and take care of public opinion."
Blatter, re-elected for a fourth term in June unopposed after then Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam was booted out of FIFA in a cash-for-votes scandal, has his work cut out.
I think all the major nations in FIFA should refuse to participate in the 2022 world cup until there is a full investigation by an independent body and if proved there was no corruption no problem let it go ahead there is still time to do this.
I think people are forgetting, this isn't the President of the United States, or any other world leader. This is the head of FIFA, immune from critism, total impunity to whatever he wants, whenever he wants.
If he says the matter is closed, short of an apocalypse or every football nation turning their back on FIFA, it will never change. Only Blatter departs, will there likely be any change (which by the way, only he will decide when and where and in which circumstances).
Blatter, and all his other FIFA cronies involved in this selection, should be left to sit in the stands, not VIP boxes, for the entire summer tournament in Doha.
Only then will they realise the stupidity of their greed, ruling their heads, in this decision.
They could stage the World Cup in Wild Wadi in summer time and it would still be way too hot to play world class football. The most ridiculous decision ever by FIFA who look to be heading the way of the dinosaurs! Still plenty of time to gather massive objections and reverse this shambolic charade!
To all haters, Qatar is innocent until proven guilty.
I don't understand what all this fuss is about. There has been an email from an alleged whistle-blower who has confessed to have made up the story for revenge as he was terminated from his job. There was no evidence, zero whatsoever! Tomorrow I am upset with someone will raise false accusations without any proof and that's it. There is a sense of justice here which is simply ridiculous. I don't like Blatter. I hoped he wouldn't be renamed to be honest. But World Cup it's in it's word, "WORLD". So it should involve everyone and not just those countries that are wide large and who have already hosted the cup in the past. Let Qatar and Russia prove itself, there is no harm in that. All allegations and critics that I read appear to me as false and racist unacceptable stands.
I seem to recall that Qatar FA chief Bin Hammam was found guilty of paying bribes to Caribbean officials for their support in his leadership bid? Presumably he's not guilty too, even when proven guilty?
If you want the image of your country to improve, you need to acknowledge when your nationals do wrong, and not insist on it being foreign conspiracies against you, or people who 'hate' you.
All this hoopla because Qatar (an Arab country) won the bid. How come no one bashes FIFA over the fact that 3 teams from the same country, UK's England, Wales and Scotland, can all try to qualify and play as individual teams in the world cup. Now that's something worth causing a stir about.
is it really "worth causing a stir WHJ"? So in your world, you are more interested in bashing teams who legitimately play in knock-out tournaments and progress to a final stage, rather than a bunch of non-elected FIFA cronies who just have large pockets?
First, it is not because it is an Arab country. It is because there are serious doubts about how it got there and also about the capabilities to organize it given the total lack of (successful) track record.
Second, how is that relevant? The fact that you meet three different teams instead of a single UK one does not have a negative impact on any other team. Actually it weakens them as they are forced to split the talent. I could understand if you complained of a "EU national selection" as it would give undue advantage, but this one?
BTW there is (at least) a Catalonian rugby selection. Not sure if they have a soccer one too.