Sepp Blatter says Qatar was a ‘bad choice’ to host the World Cup.  I’m not kidding

Sepp Blatter says Qatar was a ‘bad choice’ to host the World Cup. I’m not kidding

Sepp Blatter served 17 years (1998-2015) as president of FIFA, which is in a perpetual battle with the International Olympic Committee for the title of the world’s most corrupt sports body.

He once managed to get re-elected even after the 14 executives and associates were indicted by the US Justice Department on racketeering charges stemming from an alleged widespread culture of bribery and kickbacks, often involving votes for World Cup hosting privileges. Many were pulled by Swiss authorities from their luxury hotel beds in luxury hotels in Zurich during a FIFA conference.

When Blatter finally resigned in disgrace, he had the audacity to declare: “FIFA needs a deep restructuring.”

I’m not kidding? Of course it did, and of course it still does, but perhaps Blatter could have worked on it during his nearly two decades in charge.

But this is Sepp Blatter, the fakest of fakes.

This is the guy who oversaw so many backroom deals that the World Cup is set to be staged in November and December – upending professional calendars and challenging viewing habits – because under highly suspicious circumstances and with tragic consequences, Qatar somehow won way the offer of 2022.

Blatter, now 86, regrets that too.

“It was a bad choice and I was responsible for it as president at the time,” he said.

You might say it’s better late than never to make an obvious statement, but that’s how men like Blatter try to (sort of) clear their conscience. It was a bad choice, then, now and always. It was also ridiculous, with the United States, among other countries, ready and willing to handle the tasks.

Instead, he went to a small oil country with a pathetic human rights record, a history of crackdown on surveillance, a deadly problem with migrant labor, and a climate that has turned this whole thing into something unfortunate.

Injuries have sidelined many top players. National teams have little time to train in shape. Fans fear having their every move watched. In the US, at least, the league will compete for attention against the NFL and college football.

And perhaps only someone with the moral compass of a FIFA executive could sit in one of the shiny new stadiums and not wonder how many Nepali workers died building the thing — the truth: no one will ever know.

However, Blatter doesn’t seem to care too much about that. Now it is against Qatar because it is “too small”.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter gives a press conference at FIFA headquarters in Zurich March 20, 2015 at the end of a two-day meeting to decide the dates of the 2022 soccer World Cup in Qatar.  AFP PHOTO / MICHAEL BUHOLZER (Photo by MICHAEL BUHOLZER / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP via Getty Images)

Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter now says awarding the World Cup to Qatar was a “mistake”. (Photo by MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2010, Qatar’s surprise 14-8 victory over the United States was suspect at the time and only worse.

He had no viable argument except that the World Cup had never been held in the Middle East. There were reasons for this, however, and not just that summer temperatures can soar to 130 degrees in the summer.

“Thanks to his four votes [former UEFA chief Michael] Platini and his team, the World Cup went to Qatar and not the United States,” Blatter told Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger on Tuesday. “It is the truth.”

Blatter went on to say that then French president Nicolas Sarkozy called Platini, a legendary player from the country, and told him to “see what you and your colleagues from UEFA can do for Qatar when the World Cup is awarded”. .

Just like that, Qatar was in and the US was out.

“But of course it was also about money,” Blatter said. “Six months later, Qatar bought fighter jets from the French for $14.6 billion.”

This is a FIFA classic and it was by no means the only side deal that affected something. Both Blatter and Platini have been investigated and sanctioned, at one point even banned from football altogether.

Almost nothing was legal in FIFA under Blatter and anyone paying attention knew it. This mostly useless international governing body has its hands on the most popular sport on Earth and can shake down just about anyone, anywhere.

The World Cup is of course the crowning glory. And like the Olympics, as desperate countries often led by despotic leaders scrambled to host the games in an attempt to look good on the international stage – or to allow government funds to be funneled to favored contractors who then sent some back to the politicians – FIFA played by officials.

The World Cup was in Brazil, where it left a trail of white elephant pitches. It was in Russia, where Vladimir Putin used it to mask his fame and power.

“Putin is no longer the person I knew then,” Blatter said, noting that he condemned the current invasion of Ukraine.

In fact, they are exactly the same person. Blatter then never cared.

Now it is Qatar, with its social views from the 1400s.

It’s a beautiful game, they like to say about football, but it’s always been a dirty business and no one knows that better than Sepp Blatter, the former boss who oversaw it all and is now apparently trying to find religion.

A mistake? Yes, no kidding. And something avoidable, no matter how many billions were spread.

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